South Somerset Local Plan Review 2016-2036 Preferred Options Consultation (Regulation 18)

Comment ID 510
Document Section South Somerset Local Plan Review 2016-2036 Preferred Options Consultation (Regulation 18) Housing Affordable Housing Text Block View all on this section
Respondent Milborne Port Parish Council View all by this respondent
Response Date 07 Oct 2019

B10. Provision of Affordable Housing

B10.1 We note policy HG2 regarding the provision of affordable housing.  We approve the general strategy behind this.  We note that the applicable percentage appears to have been reduced from 35% to 29%.  We are concerned about this as a general point.  However, we believe this is of specific interest in Milborne Port itself.

B10.2 We are aware of the 2018 survey that was carried out and that, based on respondents from Milborne Port, a relatively low need for additional affordable housing was identified.  However, we believe there are some systemic weaknesses in this analysis.  Anecdotally, those most in need of affordable housing are least likely to complete such surveys. The survey did allow for other residents to volunteer data regarding persons with whom they lived (eg family members) who needed such housing. Of course, many of those who have been affected have already left the settlement, and hence are not aware of the survey taking place.

As a Parish Council the feedback we receive on this point is, overwhelmingly, that persons who grew up within the village are increasingly unable to afford to continue to live in it at key stages of their lives, most notably when moving out of their parents’ accommodation, when starting to co-habit, and when starting a family.  There are also concerns around retirement, with some feedback that retiring residents of the village feel unable to compete for property with incoming retirees from other parts of the country.

We suspect that, given the comparatively lower levels of self-contained Employment within the village, articulated in 8.55, and the anecdotal loss of long term residents due to property prices, and their replacement by commute based residents, Milborne Port has a higher than usual issue with emigration than would be the case across South Somerset as a whole.

B10.3 However, we have also received feedback that, when presented with the opportunity, persons resident in Milborne Port, who would qualify for access to such housing, do not actually apply for it. There is potential concern therefore, that this historic low take up by locals might result in viability claims by developers in the future, gradually reducing the overall percentage of affordable housing within the village.

B10.4 The provision of affordable housing is an important tool in maintaining the social integrity of any settlement.  However, within Milborne Port such provision addresses not only the generic concerns in this regard, but also concerns raised by village’s specific dynamics.

B10.5 On balance, given the anecdotal nature of the evidence being given to us, the Parish Council is content to follow SSDC’s 29% in Policies HG2 and MP1, but would urge SSDC to keep this under close review.

B10.6 However, we would be interested in considering geographical or connectivity tests being attached to any such housing that becomes available due to future development, so as to prioritise access to local or connected residents.  We are aware that such restrictions and preferences can be difficult to enforce, and impossible if there is no demand from qualifying individuals, but we believe that, at worst, it would be a helpful statement of intent.  The Parish Council would be happy to work with SSDC and with the Milborne Port Commonality, to increase the awareness of such opportunities, and, importantly, encourage qualifying residents to register themselves as potentially interested parties.