Whitchurch and Ganarew
Housing to 2031 Development Sites
It is very important that the community develops a strong Neighbourhood Plan to give the best possible chance of maintaining an area that it would be happy to pass to future generations. Additional housing is a very large part of a Neighbourhood Plan and requires a great deal of background work to identify what is and will be required from housing stock, potential sites, and types of buildings acceptable including those that may come from any change of use.
In 2011 Herefordshire Council’s Rural Housing Strategy stipulated that Whitchurch and Ganarew Parish should have a 14% growth in housing by 2031. This equates to 65 new houses, of which 10 have already been built, and planning permissions have been given for 12 others, leaving a minimum of 43 more to be approved and built by 2031. These 43 the community can affect through the Neighbourhood Plan.
Mutterings under your breath will not achieve anything but, it is believed, a strong Neighbourhood Plan will influence future decisions. The community as a whole must be afforded the opportunity of consultation before any Neighbourhood Plan is written so all voices can be heard. The consultation will be in a variety of forms and be widely publicised.
Herefordshire Council Rural Housing Strategy
The production of parish proportional growth figures by the council provides support for the rural housing strategy, and gives central government the requisite assurance that the level of rural housing proposed for the county (namely 5,300 dwellings) can be delivered.
It should be made clear that the indicative figures do not take account of any environmental factors or constraints which may exist in certain parishes.
Housing development in rural areas will be delivered through Neighbourhood Development Plans or, where there are no such plans, a Rural Sites Allocation by Herefordshire Council. Neighbourhood Plans will allocate land for new housing, or otherwise demonstrate delivery to provide levels of housing to meet the various targets.
Neighbourhood Development Plans are not necessarily required to allocate all their indicative proportional growth. The primary objective is to show that the levels of growth given to parishes is achievable subject to local and environmental constraints.
The following table indicates the potential indicative proportional growth in Whitchurch and Ganarew.
|Parish Group||Whitchurch and Ganarew|
|Settlements in fig 4.20 and 4.21||Whitchurch, Symonds Yat West|
|No. of houses in Parish||462|
|% Growth in Local Plan Core Strategy minimum||14|
|Minimum Number new houses required to 2031||65|
|Housing Completions 2011-2014||10|
|Housing Commitments as at 1 April 2014||12|
|Total Housing remaining minimum||43|
(NB. Above figures provided by Herefordshire Council.)
The Council's Rural Housing Strategy Paper identifies Whitchurch as "A village to be a focus of proportionate housing development."
Symonds Yat West is identified as "a village where proportional housing development will be restricted to market homes which meet the needs of people with local connections or affordable housing."
Rightmove.co.uk stated on 9th November 2015 - "The overall average price in Whitchurch is £249,236. This figure is higher than in Monmouth (£216,309) and Symonds Yat (£229,290), but less than Goodrich (£346,475)." In the last 12 months "sold" prices in Whitchurch are 13% down on the previous year and 20% down on 2006 (when the average "sold" price was £311,269). The average price in Herefordshire is £248,656." There is currently one property available to rent at £950pcm. (This is a detached 3 bedroomed house in Old Monmouth Road). The average house price nationally is £196,807.
Paragraph 5.31 of Hereford Council's Local Housing Requirements Update (2014) states: "A combination of the deteriorating affordability of market homes, restricted access to mortgage products, and a lack of social housing supply over the 2001-2011 decade has resulted in fewer households being able to buy and increased pressure on the existing affordable housing stock. This has resulted in strong growth in the private rented sector."
Paragraph 5.32 continues: "Owner occupation has fallen in Herefordshire between 2001 and 2011, while there was a substantial growth in the Private Rented Sector over this period. This was the trend Regionally and Nationally. The evidence however shows that this trend has been less pronounced in Herefordshire than in other parts of the country".
The average salary in the UK is £26,500 p.a. (some sources say £22k). The Sunday Telegraph states (on 22nd November 2015) that the average first-time buyer needs a minimum income of £41,000 p.a. to secure a mortgage (and in London the requisite salary is £77,000 pa). These figures are based on a 10% deposit and borrowing the remaining 90% at 4.5 times annual income. There is a wide divergence between the North and South of the country. In the South West, ONS figures for 2014 show the average house price for first-time buyers at £179,204. The required annual wage to buy at this price would be £35,841, but the current median annual wage is £20,690.
Herefordshire Council offers "affordable home ownership options" by registering with Home Point, being unable to afford to purchase a home on the open market and having a household income of less than £60,000 p.a.
The Current Situation (Regulatory - local and national)
Herefordshire Council's Housing Needs Study for Whitchurch and Ganarew in 2007 (the survey for which had a response rate of 45%) revealed that the Parish had a low proportion of socially rented stock (only 5% of dwellings compared to 15% for the whole of the country). 52% of all respondents said they were in favour of more housing within the Parish.
The Parish Plan Questionnaire of 2014 (with a 46% response) showed that 18% of parishioners felt the Parish was under-developed, whilst 57% thought that the current level of developed land for housing was "about right". In the event of developing new housing there was significant support for the conversion of redundant buildings, the use of previously used ("brownfield") sites and the use of infill development. It is noteworthy that 57% thought that there should be some limit on new house building.
Home Point stated in 2007 that clients "areas of preference" show that Whitchurch is in the top third of areas within Herefordshire where applicants would like to live.
The Parish Plan questionnaire revealed that, if new houses are to be built in the Parish, respondents expressed support for starter homes, family homes and easy access homes.
Herefordshire Council define Affordable Housing as:
1. Housing provided at below market price,
2. For people with a local connection to Herefordshire, and
3. For people who are unable to afford to purchase or rent houses generally available on the open market, without financial assistance, as their only home.
The Council say that to develop affordable housing in a rural community they need to initially identify the local housing need. They offer to attend a parish council meeting to discuss a survey, (by means of a questionnaire). If a housing need is identified in an area they can hold information/consultation evenings, and seek the community's views on potential development sites.
Affordable Housing need is both a political and emotive subject. Targets in the region of 35% (of new development) have been set. The Housing and Planning Bill (currently before Parliament promotes the development of "starter homes", to be available to first-time buyers at a discount of at least 20% of M.V. Councils will have a specific duty to promote same, and it is proposed that planning permissions will only be granted if the "Starter Home" requirement is met.
Other provisions of note in the Bill are a duty on Councils to compile a register of brownfield sites and duties to keep registers of people seeking land for self-build and custom housebuilding.
Herefordshire Council do not own or manage any housing. Home Point is the central register for people in need of affordable rented homes in the County. A housing options assessment is submitted to them and, if eligible, an application is made to be put on the affordable housing register. Thereafter one may bid for available rented housing.
Herefordshire Council has a Rural Lettings Policy, the purpose of which is to ensure that a qualifying person's local connection to a parish within the County is taken into account when they apply for housing which has been provided specifically to meet local needs.