Latest news on MCLT Affordable Housing Project

Affordable Housing project

As you will know, last year MCLT entered into a partnership with Mike and Anne Ball to explore a possible site for affordable housing, west of the Garston Farm buildings. After the village meeting at the end of July where there was strong support for the CLT proposal, we interviewed architects and housing associations and appointed Reed Watts as our architect and United Communities as our housing association partner.

We applied for a grant from Homes England in November 2018 to enable us to carry out a full feasibility study of the Garston Farm site.  It took a little time for the grant to be approved but in March 2019 work started in earnest and specialist consultants have now been employed to provide a series of reports on the archaeology, landscape, ecology and topology of the site as well as the technical aspect of land structure, utilities and highways. These reports have provided a significant amount of information and our architect, Reed Watts, has coordinated this data as they have developed a draft scheme for the site.

Planning Process

An indicative scheme has now been sent to South Gloucestershire Council for discussion through what is known as the Pre-app process. This advice is important in addressing major concerns such as access and the way a development will fit into the local environment so it is important that we get that advice even though we know it may take some time before we can meet with South Gloucestershire planners.

The draft application will be amended in the light of this advice and brought to the village so we can take your views into account. Following that consultation and any further amendments, a final planning application will then be made.

We hope to get planning permission to build 12 affordable homes; a mix of 1-beds flats, 2 beds and 3-beds houses for rent and shared ownership, and 6 market houses. Three of these are plots for a return for the landowner and three will be open market houses to help finance the affordable homes.  Planning consent will be subject to a Section 106 Agreement restricting occupancy of the affordable homes to local people in perpetuity.

The application will be for planning consent under South Gloucestershire Council’s policy on Rural Exception Sites which can allow development in the Green Belt and AONB when the application is for affordable housing for local people. Such proposals are strengthened if they are community led initiatives such as ours.

In 2018 Marshfield Parish Council commissioned a Housing Needs Survey which was carried out by South Gloucestershire Council. This survey confirmed the findings of the 2013 survey and indicated that there is still a need in Marshfield for housing for people with local connections. The Parish Council have confirmed their support for the findings of The Housing Needs Survey and this will strengthen the MCLT planning application.

Key Planning Concerns

In our discussions of the site we have been aware that the houses will be close to a cluster of agricultural buildings and the architect’s initial indicative design has been sympathetic to this context. Another key aim is to charge as low a rent as possible.  The rented houses will be available either at Affordable Rents (defined as 80% of market rents for similar properties, subject to be capped at the Local Housing Allowance rate) or, if we can achieve it, at Social Rents which are significantly lower.  We want to incorporate some low-energy measures and also are looking for opportunities to maximise biodiversity and green space across the site but these will have to be balanced against build costs and achieving affordability for residents.

Allocation of houses

We are hopeful that planning permission may be granted towards the end of 2019. It is unlikely that houses will be available to live in before 2021 but we have already begun to think about the criteria that will be used in allocating the houses.

Allocation of these houses will be in accordance with ‘local connection’ criteria agreed by MCLT. Applicants will need to register with South Gloucestershire Council’s HomeChoice to verify their need for affordable housing.

Closer to the time when people are thinking of applying, the MCLT intends to provide workshops to clarify the HomeChoice application process.

Building and managing the homes

United Communities Housing Association will play a very significant role once we have received planning permission. They will fund, develop and manage the rented accommodation homes as well as managing the sale of market houses and shared ownership. The freehold of the houses remains with the MCLT.

Please contact any member of the MCLT board if you would like more information or have any thoughts on the work of MCLT.

The MCLT Board

Christine Eden (Chair- 01225 891525 c.eden@live.co.uk), Oliver Shirley, Simon Turner, Jim Brookes, Ian Jones, Ian Dawes, Ros Snow

MCLT response to removal of affordability criteria Bences Close

Marshfield Community Land Trust does not own the assets under question or have any legal right to intervene in this dispute but we are active in promoting affordable housing and are concerned at the potential loss of any affordable housing in Marshfield.

A recent Housing Needs Survey, commissioned by Marshfield Parish Council and conducted by South Gloucestershire Council, identified a continuing unfulfilled need for affordable housing for local people in Marshfield. Any loss of existing affordable housing stock would be a retrograde step. MCLT would therefore wish to register its opposition to this application. This case highlights the important role a Community Land Trust can play in providing housing which remains affordable in perpetuity and whose status is not vulnerable to legal challenge.

MCLT Grant has arrived

The MCLT grant for a feasibility study has now arrived.

The MCLT recently has had some good news.

After four months of waiting we have finally received the grant from Homes England that allows us to undertake the feasibility study on our affordable housing project and preferred site. We now have some of the grant funding in our bank account and have been able to send out contracts to our various consultants who will help with our feasibility study.

We need to get reports from: a ground engineer; an engineer; an ecologist; an archaeologist; a topographical surveyor and a landscape architect. All these reports will then go to the project architects who are Reed Watts from London and Bath who will bring all that data together and make some suggestions of design and site layout. They will be working also with our Housing Association, United Communities from Bristol.

We will be bringing those ideas back to the village for consultation before we submit a planning application. It is only at the point when we know a planning application is successful that we finally enter into the legal and binding contract with the landowner.

There’s a long way to go before we have homes for local people to live in but it feels as if the dream is slowly turning into reality.

Please get in touch with any of the Board with queries or ideas.

From: Christine Eden, Chair ( c.eden@live.co.uk ) 01225 891525

Board members: Oliver Shirley, Simon Turner, Jenny Gibbons, Ian Jones, Ian Dawes, Jim Brookes, Ros Snow.

MCLT and its hopes for 2019

Happy New Year to all our readers!

MCLT is expecting to hear any day now from Homes England that we have cleared the final hurdle in our grant application  to undertake a feasibility study on our proposed site.

We seem to have been waiting for some while but understand there are a lot of applications which have to be carefully scrutinised and all MCLT Board members have had to be put through what is called a ‘due diligence’ process. This all seems right and proper  but it is hard waiting for the final letter of approval.

When we hear from Homes England we will let you all know. Then we can get on with  exploring our proposed site and all being well, bring a draft design proposal  to the village for consultation.

Report on village consultation meeting July 21 2018

 Notes on MCLT Consultation meeting: July 21 2018: Community Centre 12noon

Chair: Christine Eden

All MCLT Board present: Oliver Shirley, David Dodd, Simon Turner, Ian Dawes, Jim Brookes, Ian Jones, Jenny Gibbons.

Approx. 106 members of community attended.

The meeting started with a welcome and introductions to:

  • the MCLT Board & Steve Watson , the affordable housing advisor from Wessex Community Land Trust Project which deals with 40 CLTs across the south west
  • the role of CLTs in being able to acquire and hold assets that benefit the community in perpetuity
  • MCLT’s first project is to build affordable housing for people with a housing need and strong local connection
  • this meeting is bringing a site to the community at early stage to identify if village support proposal

Purpose of meeting:

  • to get an ‘in principle’ support for proposed site and if received, MCLT will then proceed to undertake a feasibility study to check site is appropriate.
  • to listen to comments and to answer questions.

Brief account of process of site search: Working within South Glos policy of Rural Exception Sites. This means that affordable housing to meet local needs can be permitted on sites where market housing would not normally be acceptable. Must be for people with a housing need and with a local connection -exactly what the MCLT is aiming to do. Policy also allows for small number of market homes.

 Site search since July 2016 involved 4 stages:

1.Used large scale maps and aerial photos to identify every potential development site in and around the village and came up with a total of 31 sites adjacent to the village boundary.

2.Assessed sites against no of criteria in a systematic way: used South Glos Council’s guidelines on searching for sites in rural communities: eg size, access, relationship to the settlement, etc, took advice based on other CLT experiences, informal advice from SGC planners and drew on local experience and knowledge e.g. effects of possible development on traffic, parking, existing services, site gradient, views in and out of the village, level of anticipated community acceptance etc.

3.Then approached a number of owners that best met criteria to see if would sell site ; some negotiations went on for a long time- endless emails, meetings, drawing up Heads of Terms. But not possible to reach an agreement that was acceptable to owners and the MCLT.

  1. Reviewed position and adopted alternative approach.

Phase 2 followed same process but:

  1. Identified sites close to settlement boundary but not adjacent
  2. Assessed these sites against our criteria
  3. Opened negotiations with land owners by offering small number of market plots in exchange for the land for affordable houses and some MCLT market plots. Could do this because rural exception site policy allows for a small number of market houses.
  4. Negotiations with land owners led to current position where a site seems appropriate and available.

Steve Watson showed some CLT sites at various stages of build.

Indicates how a CLT and a community working together can actually deliver affordable homes for local people in our community.

Discussion of site:

1.6 acres. Not adjacent to  but east of school: owned by Mike Ball.

No of factors make site a possibility including fact that site falls within SGC exception sites policy.

Proposing a scheme of 18 homes:

  • 12 affordable house, prioritised for local people- rent and shared ownership depending on Housing need survey
  • 3 market plots for MCLT which will be used by the CLT to cross subsidise the affordable housing and help get rents to a level which are genuinely affordable
  • 3 plots for the owner in recognition of providing the other 15 plots at no cost to the MCLT.

Questions from meeting

Questions Answers
Will there be a footpath / access that’s not on the main road for people to access services? Will carry out technical feasibility work. Access a key issue. Feel sure S Glos will insist on a pedestrian link.
What’s the constraint on plot size, why not take it to farm?

 

Farmer wanted to ensure there was a buffer between the farm buildings and new buildings
Will there be parking facilities with each house Yes, can’t build without making parking available
Why not choose plot closer to the school?

 

Not owned by the landowner of the MCLT proposed site
Will the speed limit along the road be changed?

 

Don’t know, points of access and speed limit will need to be addressed with Highways, -if we want planning permission we will have to meet their demands.
Logical to be east of the village. But why is it to the right of the spare land next to the school Owner of plot next to school told meeting that MCLT had been offered 12 plots of the greenbelt site to east of school as part of larger development to include doctor’s surgery. They are taking professional advice & at early stages. Not yet clear what will be a commercially viable scheme. Want a dialogue with the village and S Glos on this.

MCLT responded that they need a rural exception site for local connection to be given priority. Also issue of timing and MCLT approach is about community led development so not accepted this offer.

Can the piece of land be divided so that some is rural exception site and some not?

 

MCLT had requested this but that offer not available.

 

What would be the cost of the houses? Not for sale : mainly rent with some shared ownership

 

What is shared ownership? Some down payment. Mortgage for some of it and pay rent on remainder

 

Will the houses proposed never be fully owned by anybody?

 

Correct – has to be held by MCLT for the benefit of the community in perpetuity
Will shared ownership allow ‘stair casing’?

 

Only to limit of 80% ownership (and at that point anticipated owner would move on)

 

Comments also made about the advantages of trying to work together as a community.

Meeting thanked MCLT for their work in pursuing the affordable housing project.

Indication of level of support

David Dodd asked meeting to indicate general level of approval of proposed site. Not a formal vote but a straw pole to give MCLT a broad feeling of support so can move on to the next stage of a feasibility study. This will draw on the expertise of housing associations and professionals such as architects and surveyors to ensure that the site is viable and feasible for our affordable housing project. As that progresses MCLT will bring planning application back for consultation.

Very strong support: 100 indicated support, no-one against and 6 abstentions.

Meeting closed with thanks to all who attended for interest and support. Also thanks to members, Parish Council and Ben Stokes and Steve Reade our SG councillors for their support. Recognised that many hurdles yet to jump.

Reminder of Housing Need Survey whose results will be important for the MCLT. Outline of MCLT proposal available as a handout. MCLT always pleased to hear comments, and suggestions through our website. MCLT will keep village informed of developments and will consult on planning application.

Proposed Affordable Housing Site

The news you have all been waiting for!

At the packed informal consultation meeting held at noon on 21st July 2018 the MCLT board announced the location of the proposed site. See the location in  Handout 2 provided at the meeting.

At the show of hands at the end of the meeting there was was overwhelming support for the MCLT board to move to a full feasibility study. There were some abstentions and no objections.

 

 

 

July 21st consultation background

Download as PDF

MCLT Consultation meeting July 21st 2018

Marshfield Community Centre Small Hall 12.00 noon

Background to development of MCLT and its site search

MCLT Governance and membership

  • MCLT is a not- for-private – profit, community benefit society registered with the Financial Conduct Authority.
  • CLTs can own land  and  other  assets  which  are of benefit and important to the  community and then are held in perpetuity for the community.
  • Most CLTs have started with securing affordable housing for people and families with a local connection but also explore other community benefits.
  • CLTs aims to ensure that local people remain in control of local assets.
  • CLTs develop  and  manage  these  assets  in  partnership  with  g. Housing Associations to  ensure  their  long-term  sustainability.
  • MCLT is open to membership to all supporting its aims and agree to the ways of working set out by the Rules and the MCLT standing orders.
  • Membership of MCLT is by purchase  of  shares  at  £1
  • The MCLT  is  managed  by  a  Board  of  Directors  elected by members and  accountable to its members[1].

Why a CLT was set up in Marshfield

The catalyst was the serious divisions within the Marshfield community revealed due to a developer wanting to erect 37 houses following a Housing Need Survey which indicated a considerable level of affordable housing need in Marshfield[2].

There was a strong negative reaction that can be summarised thus;

  • the scheme was too big;
  • it would spoil the local landscape; and,
  • people of the village did not want any more market development but support for affordable housing for people with local connections.

At an informal meeting the scheme was voted against by large majority & a petition against the development was signed by 500 people.

The developer withdrew leaving the affordable housing problem unresolved.

This led to emergence of Marshfield CLT.

Emergence of MCLT

Wessex CLT Project were approached and an introductory meeting with Parish Councillors and other interested parties held. Over 70 people attended a public meeting to launch a CLT project chaired by the Chairman of the Parish Council. More than 70 people attended.

The meeting set up a steering committee of 15 people to take things forward.

By July 2016 we had;

  • set up Marshfield CLT as a Community Benefit Society under Financial Services Agency signing up to the Rules under the Cooperative Act 2014;
  • established a board of directors;
  • gained the active support of the Parish Council and District Councillors;
  • canvassed for support locally and gained more than 155 members/shareholders; and,
  • agreed that first project would be to develop affordable housing and began search for sites[3].

CLTs and rural exception sites

The MCLT board wanted a site for shared ownership and properties for rent to meet the need identified in the 2013 Housing Need survey which reported:

“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.

We hoped that finding a site would be helped by the fact that national and local policy allows affordable housing to be developed on rural exception sites which would not usually be granted planning permission such as green belt and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty because of planning policy constraints.[4]

Legislation states that building in these areas can be permitted where  there  is  a  need  for  affordable  housing  by  people  with  a  local  connection – those 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.

All this seemed to put Marshfield CLT into a good position as we set about finding a rural exception site which could be purchased at a price appropriate for affordable housing.

First site searches phase

Since July 2016, MCLT has looked at a wide range of sites of about 0.75-1.5 acres around and close to Marshfield, initially drawing on South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) criteria which covers aspects such as;

  • relationship of proposed sites to the existing settlement;
  • highway and pedestrian access and safety;
  • environmental factors, such as landscape form and character, flooding, archaeology and historic character, ecology, agricultural land quality etc.; and,
  • implications of any relevant planning policy such as Green Belt, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

We also used our own experience and knowledge to explore factors such as  site gradient ,  the risk to significant views/vistas, negative effects on village gateways, parking, unacceptable volume of traffic within  the village, parking implications, effects on existing facilities, impact on utilities & services and the degree to which a site is likely  to  be  broadly  supported  by  the  village  community.

Using these criteria we identified a group of preferred sites and talked to number of landowners using a cash exchange model but didn’t have any success in getting a site. We just couldn’t attract interest or address the hope value that SGC might change the settlement boundary.

The MCLT board revised the site selection process as it became clear that we could not secure a site through our initial approach.

Second phase of site search leading to our preferred site

Planning policies on exception sites include the phrase ‘related to’ so we began to negotiate with land owners whose land is close to the settlement boundary but not adjacent.

We also used the possibility within planning policies which allows a small number of market houses to be built on rural exception sites along with the affordable homes. We agreed to offer a small number of market plots to the land owners in exchange for the land for affordable houses The same number of market plots would then be used by the CLT to cross subsidise the affordable housing and help get rents to a level which are genuinely affordable. This approach also will provide a mix of tenures and types of housing which is typical of much of Marshfield houses.

No more than a 1/3 of the houses would be market housing. This means 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 depending in part on what the new housing Need Survey tells us. Such a development will be subject to SGC policies that take account of environmental considerations including landscape and the impact on the openness of the Green Belt and AONB.

The conversations using our new approach have been successful. We have had 3 owners with interest in working with us and are now bringing you our preferred option.

Who is eligible for the affordable homes

Affordable housing is not just for people wanting to live in Marshfield, they also have to have a housing need. To establish this, the  CLT,  SGC and  the  housing  association  will work together to  approve  the  criteria  for  allocating  the  homes.  Criteria will cover two key areas:

  • how long has a person lived or worked in the village or  whether a person has  family  who  have  lived  in  the  parish; and,
  • whether the information given about the type and size of housing needed and the mortgage capacity of respondents identifies them as being in housing need and eligible for affordable housing.

This will be verified by anyone who wants to be considered for an affordable home needing to register on the SGC Home Choice register.

What happens if the site is supported by the village

The MCLT  will secure a grant  to carry out a feasibility study which will:

  • Identify a housing association for MCLT to work with who will fund, build and manage the homes,  taking  the  development  risks and works with  SGC to allocate  the  homes  in  line  with  criteria  approved  by  the  MCLT;
  • appoint surveyors;
  • chose an architect  who will help design the houses and submit  a pre- planning  application; and,
  • bring the design back to the village for consultation and comments before submitting a planning application.

The  MCLT  will  own  the  site  and  lease  it  to  the  housing  association  for  125  years and  will receive a small ground rent which will support the running of the MCLT and new projects.

[1] See MCLT website for more detail on CLTs http://marshfieldclt.org/

Also Wessex Community Land Trust Project that supports 40 CLTs across the south west  https://wessexca.co.uk/wessex-clt-project/projects/

[2] Housing  Need Survey 2013

http://marshfieldclt.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Marshfield-housing-needs-survey-report-final.pdf

[3] Reflects concerns such as that expressed by the Rural Coalition Report 2107:

  • “Across rural England there is a severe and growing shortage of affordable housing for local people. Many areas are turning into enclaves of the affluent”.

[4] SGC Exception sites

Affordable Housing can also be developed on land which is well related to a rural settlement through the Council’s exception site policy (CS19). This allows building which would not usually be granted planning permission because of planning policy constraints. A small proportion of market housing may be included to assist in delivering a viable scheme.

This type of development can be justified where it meets an identified  housing need, has the support of the appropriate Parish Council and the development is modest in scale and in keeping with the form and character of the settlement and local landscape setting. (2018: p3  South Gloucestershire Council’s Rural Affordable Housing Statement of Commitment).

See SGC CS19 for more detail http://www.southglos.gov.uk/housing/supplementary-planning-document/

http://www.southglos.gov.uk/documents/AH-ECH-SPD-FINAL-V13-2.6.14-sc-links.pdf