Latest news on MCLT Affordable Housing Project August 2019

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, Oliver Shirley, Simon Turner, Jim Brookes, Ian Jones, Ian Dawes, Ros Snow