MCLT news 18th June 2018
Affordable Housing Project
We want to give you details of how our search for a site is progressing and how it has changed as we have tried to overcome various hurdles.
The sort of housing we hope to build
The 2013 Marshfield housing needs survey and the considerable national evidence shows that many people have great difficulty in finding a secure home. We are working to address this problem with a particular focus on people with local connections to help maintain the vitality, economic and social strength of our community. So we have been searching for a site on which we can build a mixture of homes for rent and shared ownership which will be held for the community in perpetuity.
This reflects the evidence from the last housing need survey, although we recognise that the new survey recently commissioned by the Parish Council may change the balance of tenures required. The 2013 Survey report argued:
“Based on the income data provided and information from shared ownership valuations in the area, there is a realistic demand for shared ownership in the parish but affordable rented homes are the tenure most likely to meet long term, local need in the village.”
This conclusion was based on the information given about the type and size of housing needed and the mortgage capacity of respondents rather than their wants and aspirations.
How rural exception sites not normally available for housing can support affordable homes
The need for rural affordable housing is recognised to be a nationwide problem. This has led to both national and local planning policies that support the provision of affordable housing for people with local connections by granting planning approval on what are called rural exception sites outside the village boundary.
These sites would not normally be used for housing and in Marshfield will be in the green belt, or designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and/or be in a conservation area where planning permission would not normally be given for commercial market housing. This recognises that the price of land within settlement boundaries is prohibitive for affordable housing.
Rural exception sites address the needs of the local community by accommodating households who are either current residents or have an existing family or employment connection. Small numbers of market homes may be allowed at the local authority’s discretion.
MCLT’s search for an affordable site
Phase 1- initial search
The MCLT have looked carefully at a range of sites that adjoin the Marshfield settlement boundary using South Glos. Council criteria and our own local knowledge to see if it is possible to obtain a site which could be put forward as a rural exception site and could be purchased at a price appropriate for affordable housing.
One of the difficulties we have encountered is that the position of Marshfield and its attractiveness along with the national shortage of homes raises expectation that South Gloucestershire Council may change the settlement boundary and land that one day has value as agricultural land could the next day have a greatly increased value if identified as available for market housing. The new draft Local Plan has added to this uncertainty. Equally land owners may have other reasons, but the effect has been that MCLT is finding it difficult to secure an available rural exception site.
We reported this to the AGM so this part of our search will be familiar to you all. Since then we have responded to these difficulties in two ways which we hope will be more productive. Neither of these were how we initially saw the MCLT securing a site but we have had to think of new approaches to overcome the difficulties we have encountered.
Phase 2 – Extending the search
We have now extended our search to sites which are close to the settlement boundary but not adjacent. Planning regulations now include the phrase ‘related to’ and sites that fit that description are now being explored by MCLT.
Planning policies have also recently been changed to allow a small number of market houses to be built on rural exception sites along with the affordable homes. We are thus able to offer landowners with a suitable site, a small number of plots (with planning permission) in exchange for the land being made available for affordable homes. This gives landowners an incentive to agree to transfer land to the CLT.
We expect that no more than a 1/3 of the houses would be market housing. On a site suitable for 18 houses, 3 would be market plots for the owner, 3 will be market plots which will cross subsidise the affordable houses and 12 will be affordable housing to include some for rent and some for shared ownership. Such a development will be subject to South Gloucestershire Council policies that take account of environmental considerations including landscape and the impact on the openness of the Green Belt and AONB.
So to summarise MCLT‘s current position on affordable housing:
We are looking to provide a mix of rented and shared ownership affordable housing, reflecting the housing needs identified in the 2013 survey.
By introducing the possibility of a small element of market housing on suitable sites we have:
- attracted more interest from landowners
- established the principle of a cross subsidy so we may actually be able to deliver genuinely affordable housing
- allowed an affordable housing development to reflect the mixed tenure pattern that is typical of much of the housing in Marshfield.
Our recent approach has led to negotiations with some land owners and if these are successful we will bring a recommended site to a village meeting.
Housing Need Survey
South Gloucestershire Council and the Parish Council are shortly to carry out a new Housing Needs Survey. The 2013 survey is considered out of date and MCLT will be very pleased to have the new information as this is required for a planning application on a rural exception sites.
For such an application, SGC require that a housing survey shows “a genuine local need for affordable housing within the rural settlement /parish from people who are or have been closely connected with the rural settlement /parish”. The MCLT need the new survey to provide evidence that this is the case if we are to make a convincing case to SGC planners for new affordable housing.
A Housing Need Survey includes questions on general issues of housing as well as a section for those who consider they have a housing need. This means it is relevant to all Marshfield residents not just those who have a housing need.
The survey will also want to make contact with people who have left the village, unable to afford to live here, and those who have worked in the village for some time. This ‘hard to reach’ group are important in identifying the full picture of local housing need.
The surveys will come through the letter boxes of Marshfield residents and will give an opportunity for people to identify anyone they know who belongs to that ‘hard to reach’ group so they too can access the survey. There will be information on the form about how to do this.
To encourage you to fill in the SGC/Parish Council survey I hope the following ‘rhyme’ will make you smile and prompt you to give a little time to answer the survey questions when it comes through your door.
Housing Need Survey
Please don’t throw this in the bin
Just sit down and fill it in
You can’t in the future moan
If your views were never known
If you feel you need a home
Take this chance to make it known
Let the Council hear your voice
So all can have a housing choice
Old and young, rich and poor
We all would like our own front door.
As always, if you have questions, suggestions or comments please get in touch with me or any of the Board directors.
Chair MCLT (firstname.lastname@example.org) 01225 891525
Board of Directors: Oliver Shirley, David Dodd, Simon Turner, Jim Brookes, Ian Dawes, Ian Jones, Jenny Gibbons