In our last blog post, we discussed some of the complex issues around Housing in the National Park. In this blog (the second of three) we’ll look at how Planning policy can help. (For full details of our housing proposals, you should read pages 57 – 67 of our Main Issues Report.)
We need to make sure that our Planning policies help to ensure that housing is being developed and that they don’t prevent the right type of development from taking place, in the right areas. We use Planning policies to help influence the location, the number and the type of housing that is built within the Park.
Most people want to buy or build large houses in the Park for sale on the open market (without any restriction). That’s fine for those who can afford to purchase these homes, but not for those who can’t. We work closely with the four local housing authorities (the housing teams at each of the Local Councils that the National Park covers) and know that the housing available within the Park does not meet the needs of people living and working in the area (or those who want to live and work in the area) who need affordable housing and also more smaller sized homes. This is where Planning policy can help ensure that a broader range and choice of housing is available within the Park.
We use Planning policy to ensure that when new ‘open-market housing’ (houses sold at the market rate without restriction) is being built, they have to provide a proportion of affordable housing within the development. At the moment, we require quite high proportions of affordable housing within a new development but because very little housing is being built this means that even fewer affordable houses are available. At the moment, it is not economically viable (or profitable enough) for developers to build in the National Park, resulting in less housing development than is needed.
We think we should lower the requirements for affordable housing. Whilst this means that less affordable housing needs to be built on every development, we think that achieving some is better than none. Like many of the areas we deal with in Planning, it’s a challenging issue and one that is likely to attract a lots of different, and often opposing opinion, so we want to hear people’s views on this.
Our current Planning policies already support affordable housing being built on sites outside the towns and villages – on sites that are close to village edges, or in the countryside within some of the more rural communities and where there are existing building groups in the countryside. No affordable housing has yet been delivered through this approach but we think that it is still relevant, although there may have to be some flexibility in this area to make it more attractive for developers to consider building these type of homes.
We also know that a huge amount of the housing built within the Park is either individual houses or small housing developments of up to 3 units. At the moment, there is no Planning policy for these types of development and we think that there should be. In our Main Issues Report, we propose using Planning policy to help ensure that new houses or small housing sites also help to meet the housing needs within the Park by making it necessary for either an affordable or a smaller sized house to be built in new developments. This will help there be a broad range of different housing types and sizes available to meet the needs of people within the Park.
If developers want to build a larger property to sell, there could be an option of providing a financial contribution (a ‘commuted sum’) instead of having to build a smaller, or more affordable house on the same development. The money raised would then be used to help fund affordable housing elsewhere within the Park.
What do you think? We hope this second part of our Housing blog has been useful? The final part will be posted soon. In the mean time, our Facebook and Twitter pages are also a good place to share your views, or if you want to make a formal response to the Main Issues Report you can do so by writing to us.