When a housing association or council wants to buy a piece of land on which to build a development of 100% social housing, this is generally seen as a good thing – we are desperate for more “affordable” housing, but don’t necessarily need the estates of executive homes that enable them to be built. The problem that arises is that all available land that is suitable for building on, and is in previous versions of the Local Plan, is at a premium in terms of cost.
Land owners, quite naturally, want to get the best price for their land, and this will come from developers intending to build market rate houses. So where to build a social housing development?
The answer is exception sites. These are sites outside the local plan and outside village development limits. This puts social housing developments on the very edge of villages and towns.
There are two sides to this: firstly, social housing only sites should be welcomed. They are much needed in our district, and we should support housing associations who want to build affordable housing for local people. But on the other hand, we have housing sites that wouldn’t be passed for market rate housing, for very good reasons – they can be too far from village/town amenities, local schools etc and have many normal planning considerations against them.
This dilemma is one currently facing Newport. A planning application will soon be submitted by Hastoe to build 34 homes on the outskirts of the village. It’s one we need, but in a terrible location. But it’s a case of this location, or not at all, as no other land is available at a price that Hastoe can afford.
I’d welcome all and any opinions on this!