June Update (PDF)
In our work on the Affordable Housing initiative, we have encountered a specific, major issue regarding the impact of the new Housing Bill currently being considered in the House of Lords.
Our original plans for the consultation were:
A public information exhibition to be held at the Parish Hall on 28th January;
An ‘Open Forum’, for questions and clarifications, to be held at the Parish Hall on 16th March, and
A formal written feedback process to invite comment, opinion and views on the initiative. After detailed analysis of the feedback, a report would be presented to a Parish Council meeting at a date to be agreed to enable the Council to decide whether or not to proceed with any detailed work and proposals.
The public exhibition took place on 28th January with a very impressive attendance by, we believe, approximately 450 Parishioners. There was a great deal of interest in the overall presentation and representatives from our partners in Hampshire Alliance for Rural Affordable Housing (HARAH), the National Parks Authority (NPA) and New Forest District Council (NFDC) were in attendance to respond to questions and clarification requests.
The next major event was planned to be the Public Open Forum on 16th March at the Parish Hall. However, at its meeting on 23rd February, the Council received a report from its Affordable Housing Working Group (AHWG), which highlighted some of the emerging, major, implications of the new Housing Bill on our programme. The original resolution agreed by the Parish Council October 2014, set out that:
any housing would be only available for people with a strong connection to the area;
a section 106 Agreement would be put in place to ensure that the housing created would be for rental in perpetuity (no right to buy);
there would be no shared ownership schemes – only rental;
no more than 15 units would be built over no more than 2 sites;
all properties would be let on fixed term agreements, and
no approach to the Parish for further Affordable Housing development for at least 10 years.
The Housing Bill contains many requirements which, if implemented as an Act, would mean the Council can no longer give the guarantees it has set out in the resolution above. For this reason, the Parish Council approved the resolution:
To postpone the Open Forum set for 16th March 2016 and to ‘freeze’ the consultation process, until further notice, when we will have clarity of the Housing Bill implications on our pre-conditions for any development in the Parish.
Once we have greater clarity on the content of the Housing Act 2016, we will be able to make a decision whether or not we can continue with the consultation on the basis we have agreed and set out in the resolution in October 2014. We believe that this is the right, honest thing to do. We cannot proceed with a consultation when we cannot be certain that some of our conditions could still be met for any development.
The Affordable Housing Group’s report to the Parish Council can be read by using this link