Follow Councillor Q&A on Twitter

Follow us on Twitter

0 votes

County Council led rural social/ affordable proposed housing development.

Our Parish consists of around 200 houses 

Within the village the County Council owns 8 acres of land that has been rented until recently to a Council tenant farmer. A local farmer is keen to rent the land for fodder production if it was available. The land is outside of the local development plan. It is designated a rural exception site. The Council now wishes to build, initially, around 10  social and affordable houses, having justified this after what they called a ‘ housing needs assessment’  This essentially asked people to express an interest in living in the Parish who ‘ had an association with’ this other surrounding Parishes.

The Parish Council undertook a survey of households in the Parish of the support for the development . There was a 40% response of which 80% were opposed to the development for a range of reasons including the expectation that 10 houses would be phase 1 as the site could easily accommodate 40/ 50 dwellings and that given the extensive housing developments in the 2 nearby towns how could these be ‘needed’ in this location.

Site surveys have been undertaken and the project lead has requested to attend a Parish Council meeting with an architect. At a previous meeting the County Council project lead made it clear that there is a target for the County Council to build ‘ rural houses’ and that the usual problem is availability of land which given the Council’s ownership was not a problem in this instance. This proposed development has not yet been submitted for planning approval.

I would be grateful for any comments or advice on what might be the most effective to represent our community in challenging the County Council’s proposed housing development.

by (1.1k points)

2 Answers

0 votes
First question is of course does your PC have a NDP( neighbourhood development plan) in place? If they have ( might have been made some years ago but still in place}. This will have outlined and passed into planning law the wants and wishes of your community into the plan of development for your Parish.
It sounds as if this housing plan is at the embryonic stage hence the presentation requested to the PC which would be normal pathway for the developer to follow. Presumably no planning proposal has been put before the planners as yet. So, there can be no objections of any merit made until a scheme is applied for unless of course if the matter contravenes your NDP.

So examine the proposal, make your comments known to the developer ( it might surprise you how receptive they can be). A possible future action is not a basis for objecting to a scheme.

Your NDP should take into consideration whether your area is meeting or exceeded the laid down housing needs as specified by the LA. Theses are the LA's targets not yours and they will attempt to twist arms etc. to attain them.

 You cannot mobilise the populus to object to a proposal only the actual planning application but you need  to assess the merits of working with the developer to come to an amicable solution if there is a problem.
by (25.8k points)
I don't profess to be an expert on Planning but my understanding is that the PC only has a right to comment on any Planning application and has little real clout in influencing decisions .Ultimately the DC is the  Planning authority and their officers/Councillors  alone make decisions .   Any comments/objections should be based on matters of material consideration
Whilst their input is in fact restricted in response and may appear to be no greater than individual person there are requirements of the PC as a consulted authority. Their responses are more likely to be based on planning law rather than emotional responses ( if they do their job with diligence)
They also have the right to speak at a meeting of the planning committee,
They also, can remind the planners where applications made do not follow the NDP requirements and use as arguments any contraventions that may be overlooked or sidestepped by developers or planners. Remember that planners must only support or object on planning law . PC's can also prompt planners to review historical & relevant planning decisions that sometimes get overlooked.
Fair comment but in my experience most local objections are based on emotional (I don't want it) responses rather than planning law.  Having said that the whole planning regime needs looking as it simply is not delivering the country's needs
+1 vote
Rural exception developments make a valuable contribution to their locations. There is a formal process that starts with the needs assessment survey you mentioned. This identifies current and future potential demand, without which a scheme cannot continue. Once the demand has been ascertained, the promoter, usually a housing association, but occasionally a social developer, will sit down with the Parish Council to discuss a range of options. This is what they are asking you to do now.

The survey will have indicated the required number, size and tenure of the properties required, although there may be some flexibility for negotiation, i.e. rental only, part buy/part rent, open market sale etc. The decisions about occupational eligibility rest with the Parish Council. The usual parameters are current residents of the parish, their immediate family (whether currently resident or not), former residents of the parish, people working in the parish, people attending full-time education in the parish, residents of neighbouring parishes who meet any of the agreed criteria etc. You can pick and choose from this list or add your own (within the requirements of housing and equal opportunities legislation!) Once agreed, the occupancy criteria remain valid in perpetuity, so you will always retain these properties as local homes for local people.

Why do we need rural exception schemes? They provide affordable high quality living at social rents well below the private rental market. They offer opportunities for young people to remain within their communities but fly the parental nest. Current housing legislation requires social landlords to allocate properties according to a points-based priority system that takes no account of issues such as "I was born here and have lived here all my life" "my entire family lives here" "I work here" etc. The schemes offer an easy downsizing opportunity for older people who no longer need a large family home, freeing up these family homes for those who do need them. They offer a cheaper alternative to poor-quality private rental properties for people on low incomes.

I have been involved in the delivery of two rural exception schemes and am about to embark upon my third.
by (52.8k points)

Welcome to Town & Parish Councillor Q&A, where you can ask questions and receive answers from other members of the community. All genuine questions and answers are welcome. Follow us on Twitter to see the latest questions as they are asked - click on the image button above or follow @TownCouncilQA. Posts from new members may be delayed as we are unfortunately obliged to check each one for spam. Spammers will be blacklisted.

You may find the following links useful:

We have a privacy policy and a cookie policy.

Clares Cushions logo Peacock cushion

Clare's Cushions creates beautiful hand made cushions and home accessories from gorgeous comtemporary fabrics. We have a fantastic selection of prints including Sophie Allport and Orla Kiely designs and most covers can be ordered either alone or with a cushion inner. Buying new cushions is an affordable and effective way to update your home interior, they're also a great gift idea. Visit our site now

Google Analytics Alternative