This “draft” Letter is being published for consideration by RYDA Members and those with access to the web. It aims to represent a general view of how our members feel about “Affordable Housing” whilst, at the same time, setting out some broad conditions that we would like to see applied to any large housing scheme that may come forward in the Parish. I would welcome any contributions to this debate by the 17th December when we hope to debate the final version in committee.
RIVER YEALM & DISTRICT ASSOCIATION.
DRAFT RYDA LETTER TO THE NNPC.
The RYDA launched the current work on “Affordable Housing” at their AGM on the 20th April 2006. The Chairman gave a major presentation to the membership in the Noss Village Hall from which flowed a clear view that:
· There was an overwhelming level of support, in principle, for “Affordable Housing”.
· There was agreement that the village boundary could be extended, if necessary, to achieve this.
· There was an acknowledgment that ways should be found to re-balance and regenerate the Community. Affordable Housing would form an important element of that process.
· There was a general view that a rolling programme of small builds around the village was the preferred approach to be adopted.
None of this came as a surprise, since these views reflected almost exactly the opinions voiced in the 2003 Village Survey, finally distributed as the Village Plan in 2004. The RYDA AGM was followed almost immediately by the Newton and Noss Parish Council (NNPC) AGM where the same views, with some reservations, were expressed by those present. This led the Parish Council to set up the Community Housing Working Group (CHWG) to come forward by October 2006 with proposals for a way ahead. The CHWG Final Report was accepted by the Council in November 2006.
THE PRESENT SITUATION.
All the work of the CHWG and the decisions of the NNPC have been posted on the Community Housing page of the Parish Council Website, providing opportunities for anyone with access to the Internet to make a contribution to the debate. It is significant that no one saw fit to do so, either on line or by writing to the Working Group.
The South Hams District Council has allocated 45 “Affordable Dwellings” to Newton Ferrers in the Local Development Framework Site Allocation Document; a total that the NNPC and the CHWG agree is completely inadequate to meet the Parish’s real requirement for “Affordable Housing”. There is general agreement that about 110 such dwellings are required over the next decade and that any such housing should be spread around the Parish in small groups and designed so as to fit in with what is here already. These figures were supported by a campaign to discover the likely number of Aspiring Householders who would want “Affordable Housing” if it was available.
The CHWG launched a survey to discover where such houses might be built and invited potential Landowners to come forward with proposals. The Annex to this letter (a re-print from the CHWG Final Report) sets out the possibilities. It is clear that the SHDC is fully in support of our general wish to provide Affordable Housing.
The RYDA sees no point in rehearsing the arguments, well illustrated in this report, but would wish to set out some general views, which have been canvassed widely amongst the membership.
* Briar Hill Farm. This is already a contentious site in that it sits close to the Church and the heart of the village; helpful in principle but also likely to be proposed on a scale that would be out of all proportion to the wishes of the community. Though many members of the RYDA would be immediately affected by any construction at Briar Hill Farm, there is general support for a modest build, sensitively designed and mainly aimed at the Affordable Housing sector. There would be understandable and vigorous opposition to a large build of an “Estate” within the village boundary. This qualified support would, however, only come forward provided that the Developer:-
· Had no right to any automatic relocation of the camp site to make way for any housing that was to be built. Any such relocation should face the full rigour of the planning process.
· Pay the full costs of the necessary upgrade of the Parish Sewage and Water Supply System. The views of South West Water, as expressed by its Chairman, are well understood and supported. These costs should not fall to the local Council Tax payer.
· Though accepting that the Beacon Housing Guidelines could allow the site to be one third Open Market, one third Part Equity/Part Rent and one third Social Housing. We would support the SHDC in any demand to increase this Social Housing element up to 50% so as to get Affordable Housing in to our community early.
· Should any proposal, outside these constraints come forward, we would wish to see a public debate very early on in the planning process. The RYDA would wish to be represented.
* The Fairway. There are two potential sites; an extension of the Fairway and an awkward plot north of the eastern end of this road. The extension of the Fairway would seem to be a logical extension of the village and would be supported in principle, though some members would be immediately affected by such a proposal. Again; the RYDA would expect South West Water to demand the full cost of adapting the water and sewage system to be the responsibility of the Developer. The Eastern end of the Fairway site would extend the village boundary to the north, be above the current skyline and bring little advantage to the parish. The RYDA would oppose such a build.
* CHWG Sites A to F. Subject to individual member’s opinion, these sites have been rated in a sensible order of priority and would have the support of the RYDA, provided that every effort was made to minimise the effect on those living close by and that maximum effort was made to limit the effect on the environment. Some of these sites have real potential for so doing and any such measures would be strongly supported by the RYDA. The RYDA, in particular, would support any Landowner coming forward in their quest to have their land included as “Allocated Land” in the next round of the LDF process. This would enable the various Landowners to come forward with a more balanced scheme and fund the potentially wide-ranging development costs.
SUMMARY. The RYDA has often been seen by some in the Parish as unduly conservative and opposed to change. Insofar as “Affordable Housing” is concerned the Association has played a leading role in trying to drive forward beneficial change for this community. The Association supports any effort to re-balance and regenerate the community; but not at any price.
It is for this reason that we wish to make our views known in advance of any applications for planning permission. This letter has been circulated on the RYDA website and notice boards and members have been asked to contribute to the discussion of the issues. In this way it can be said to represent a large section of our community and should be listened to by both the NNPC and the SHDC.
Attachment: Annex B to the CHWG Final Report.
Robin Hogg. Chairman.