The revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was published in July 2018. Among the many changes are some significant implications for the delivery of rural affordable housing. Generally, the provision of rural housing is encouraged. However, the delivery of affordable housing in rural communities will remain challenging.
The NPPF has ‘enshrined’ earlier Written Ministerial Guidance which removed the requirement to provide affordable housing within schemes of 10 or less dwellings. A commuted sum can be required for schemes of 6-10 dwellings but only in designated rural areas (defined under s157 of the 1985 Housing Act). Unfortunately no rural communities in Cambridgeshire fall under this designation. This means that affordable housing will only be delivered where communities are subjected to larger development proposals (often speculative proposals against community wishes where the Local Plan has been deemed out of date) or on rural exception sites.
Fortunately, rural exception sites have been afforded some protection by the decision to scale back the proposal for Entry Level Exception Sites (ELES). These had threatened to undermine rural exception sites by generating higher land values through an element of market housing. The final decision to restrict ELES to affordable housing tenures only should mean that they cannot outbid rural exception schemes.
The government has consulted on the use of receipts from Right to Buy (RTB) sales. This is a key issue for Rural Housing Enablers (RHEs) because so much affordable housing stock has been lost in rural communities. Most of it is never replaced.
RHEs have made three key suggestions in their response. Firstly, RTB should be suspended. Failing this, protections should be put in place for rural communities similar to the protections afforded Housing Association properties through the Right To Acquire. Finally, if rural stock is to be sold the recycled funds should be targeted on replacing these homes in the communities where they are sold.
The agenda for the East of England Community Led Housing event has now been published. The event takes place on Wednesday 8 August 2018 and places are free. Speakers include Richard Bacon MP, John Lefever from Hastoe Housing Association and Tom Chance from the National CLT Network.
Cambridgeshire ACRE ran their fourth Myth Buster Tour on 3 July 2018 to coincide with national Rural Housing Week. A fully booked 33 seat coach took a delegation of county, district and parish councillors on a trip round a selection of rural exception sites. The tour included completed schemes, schemes under construction and schemes about to get underway.
Feedback from the tour was excellent – “Eye opening. Myths were busted!” according to one delegate. Plans are already underway for 2019. You can read the evaluation report here.
ACRE has secured funding from the Nationwide Foundation to deliver a series of events across the country to support the delivery of community led housing. The events are intended to introduce and explore a range of Community Led Housing models in the light of the government’s Community Led Housing Fund. The events are targeted at Local Authority staff, Land agents, developers and other people involved in the promotion and planning of affordable housing.
Community Action Norfolk is running an event in Ely on 8 August 2018 and Community Lincs is running an event in Sleaford on 11 September 2018.
You can book a place at the Sleaford event at https://emclhc.eventbrite.co.uk and further details about the Ely event are available at firstname.lastname@example.org
A new rural exceptional scheme in Tydd St Giles was officially opened last week. Residents have started to move in and all 12 affordable homes were allocated to people with a local connection to Tydd St Giles parish.
The scheme marks the fulfillment of a promise by Clarion to deliver 500 affordable homes in Fenland.
The Country Land & Business Association (CLA) has published a new report looking at the potential role of ‘Entry level exception sites’ in delivering affordable homes in rural communities. Entry level exception sites are a new proposal in the draft NPPF currently being consulted on.
24th Sept 2015: Sanctuary Housing – Lucy Frazer MP visits the recently completed rural development in Haddenham.
The report also looks at the limitations and opportunities associated with traditional rural exception sites. Of particular interest to this area is the finding that five Local Authorities delivered 45% of all affordable housing on rural exception sites in England between 2011 and 2017. And Cambridgeshire delivered 424 of these homes making it the third largest deliverer in England!