Affordable Housing Working Group’s Report to the Parish Council on 23 February 2016

At the Parish Council meeting on 27 October 2015, the following e-mail statement from Action Hampshire dated 13th October 2015 was formally noted for information purposes:

The Hampshire Alliance for Rural Affordable Housing (HARAH) has made some progress in Copythorne Parish.

We are currently down to three sites which we are investigating further. We are waiting on some more formal comments from planning.

We are hoping to organise a public consultation event once we get more formal comments from planning and the viability of the three sites have been assessed. We would like the event to be held in December but it may be early 2016 (it all depends on how long it takes to get formal comments back from planning).

The drop in event will give residents an opportunity to comment on the sites and then we can find out which two sites would be most supported in the community for a scheme of 15 units (spread over 2 sites).

During 2014 the Parish Council carried out a housing survey to assess the need for further affordable housing in the parish.

The survey revealed a demonstrable unmet housing need for local people. As a result, the Council agreed to engage with HARAH (Hampshire Alliance for Rural Affordable Housing) to explore the potential for programming a suitable scheme and its funding.

It was also agreed that any scheme should be limited to a maximum of 15 units in total and be spread over at least two independent sites. In addition, all units would be for rental only (no shared ownership) and properties would be let on fixed term agreements.

Following this decision, an initial study of the parish has been carried out to identify possible suitable sites for the new housing. This exercise has been conducted by the local Rural Housing Enabler (working for Action Hampshire) in conjunction with the Parish Council and the New Forest National Park Authority. The study identified 27 possible sites for consideration.

Of these, 14 have now been discounted as being unsuitable for practical or planning reasons. The remaining 13 are sites considered worthy of further consideration and these will now be assessed further by the Rural Housing Enabler and the National Park Authority (as planning authority). Once this assessment has been carried out, there will be further discussion with the Parish Council on the choice of sites.

It is important to stress that, at this stage, no decisions have been made on development sites.

The Parish Council is also unable to publish full details of the site studies as any conclusions at present are only tentative and landowners have not been consulted. Once firm proposals have been made for possible sites, these will be published fully and local residents will be able to attend relevant Parish Council meetings and comment on the findings.

Unfortunately, the Council cannot give a timetable for this except to say that the site assessments are likely to take some time. Any future discussions on affordable housing will be included in Council agendas which in turn will be advertised on parish noticeboards and the Council website.

The Parish Council would also stress that, as with all affordable housing schemes, the housing units to be built will be subject to a section 106 agreement which ensures that lettings are only made to local people. The housing units will be retained as affordable housing in perpetuity and will never be sold to tenants.

Links to relevant documents (PDF):
Housing Need Survey Report August 2014
Housing Need Survey Report August 2014 Appendices
Extracts from Council minutes

Further information and details about the public consultation will be posted on the Parish Council’s website as they become available.