The Parish Clerk,
Newton & Noss Parish Council
1st December 2008.
AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN NEWTON & NOSS.
Reference: (a) Mr George Buckland’s Email of the 21st November 2008
(b) Mr George Buckland’s Discussion Document dated 22nd September 2004.
(c) The Community Housing Working Group Report dated 26th October 2006 .
(d) The Newton & Noss Housing Needs Survey dated June 2008.
(e) NNPC Affordable Housing to 2016 –Suggested sites for development.
Introduction. Reference (a) has sought the views of the RYDA with particular reference to the 2004 Discussion Document. It has to be said straight away that this earlier Discussion Document, Reference (b), is now over four years old and this community has studied the problems of Affordable Housing in great detail since then, with Reference (c) having been accepted by the NNPC and forwarded to the South Hams District Council (SHDC) in 2006. Furthermore, there has been a Housing Needs Survey, reference (d), the results of which give us a very good snapshot of the immediate requirement. This has been accepted by the NNPC.
The Present Situation. There are many factors at work at the present time that will affect how this community handles its Affordable Housing needs. We face a possible reorganisation of Local Government through the Boundary Committee, we have the Secretary of State about to rule on a new Regional Spatial Strategy for the South West Region and there is a marked downturn in the economy. The local Development Framework (LDF) is moving forward rapidly with those parts concerned with Affordable Housing having already been accepted by the SHDC.
Faced with these realities, it would seem sensible to move forward as rapidly as possible on a wide front, seizing each new sensible opportunity for more affordable housing that presents itself. It will be important in practice to try and achieve some momentum that will help to carry forward any sensible proposals so that changes elsewhere (a new local Government Reorganisation for instance) does not derail worthwhile proposals.
The RYDA Position. With some 400 members and a small committee it has not been possible in the time scale to ballot the views of the membership on such a subject. However, the committee believe that the general view would be:-
· We have a duty, as a community, to build Affordable Housing, both because it is urgently needed and also because the villages need to be re-balanced if they are to survive as a viable community.
· There will be no easy solutions in a place as over-developed as Newton & Noss. The Community Housing Working Group put forward some possible sites in Reference © and we would support the general thrust of Reference (e). That is to say:-
* We agree that we should aim for a target of around 10 Affordable Homes per annum.
* We agree that we should prevent any further large scale developments on small sites and build high density housing with adequate parking that realises that those who live here will almost certainly require 2 cars per household if they are to work and run a family.
* We support the need for significant additional parking in both villages, whether as part of any new development or linked to new housing.
* In spite of the current planning rules, we believe that ways should be found to reward those landowners prepared to offer sites for Affordable Housing. Whether this is through insisting that such building should be considered as part of the LDF Allocation or through some other mechanism.
* This will be particularly important when we consider the needs, not just of those trying to get onto the housing ladder for the first time, but also those, often elderly people, who need to downsize and who can afford to pay for smaller accommodation. This argues strongly for “mixed” housing wherever we are able to build.
Tailpiece. There is much uncertainty throughout the housing market and it may be that some houses, currently used as Second Homes or as Buy-to-Let properties, will become available for rent at reasonable rates. This possibility should not be allowed to lessen the push for genuine affordable housing that can be targeted at local people, whether through S106 obligations or some other mechanism. Any such housing should also be kept for local people in perpetuity.
William Taylor. Chairman RYDA.