Affordable homes in villages
One of the biggest challenges facing our local councils today is the provision of affordable homes in our rural villages.
Last year we ran an article (Sussex Review 2018) highlighting this issue and examining the many loopholes which are used by developers who would prefer to build larger, more expensive houses on these valuable greenfield sites. See: Missing affordable homes in Sussex.
The homelessness charity, Shelter, recently produced a further report looking at the issue of social housing which showed that from the Second World War up to 1980, we were building an average of around 126,000 social homes every year. Last year, there were only 6,463 new social homes. (see: https://england.shelter.org.uk/support_us/campaigns/a_vision_for_social_housing )
With a growing body of evidence highlighting a national shortage of affordable homes, we are taking a closer look at one council which has managed to buck the trend by exceeding its required provision.
Chichester District Council is one of many Sussex authorities which are struggling to provide affordable housing in lucrative areas. And yet its 2017/2018 figures show that the council has managed not only to exceed its 30% target but also to set up a Community Led Housing Forum to tackle the problem in rural areas.
So how has it done it?
Chichester District Council is clearly committed to its goal of providing homes for the people who really need them – particularly in rural villages. During Rural Housing week in July the council held a special forum for local communities wanting to build their own affordable homes.
“There is a real need to address affordable housing needs and these sorts of very local schemes can really help smaller communities where there are issues specific to that area,” said Council Cabinet Member for Housing, Jane Kilby.
“As a council we are absolutely committed to supporting these groups. There is a real need to address affordable housing needs and these sorts of very local schemes can really help smaller communities where there are issues specific to that area.”
This commitment was also evident in November when the Council voted to provide a £165,000 grant to enable Radian Housing Association to build 8 much needed affordable homes in the villages of Chidham and Hambrook. Without this money the scheme could not have gone ahead.
Last year 165 affordable homes were built in Chichester District – 66 of these were rural homes for local people.
“This is not a quick fix, it takes time,” says Jane Kilby. “It’s very important for younger and older people who have been brought up in a community to remain in the community”. The council is currently consulting on a new Local Plan for the area. This includes Policy ‘S6: Affordable Housing’ which requires that 30% of new housing must be affordable. It allows Neighbourhood Plans to set a higher target if local need and viability can be evidenced.
Consultation on the new plan is open until 7th February 2019 (see: www.chichester.gov.uk/article/30923/Preferred-Approach—consultation-December-2018 )
*Are you a local person unable to buy in your own village? What is your council doing for rural housing? Please send us your stories: firstname.lastname@example.org