Affordable Homes for Local People
Time is running out to influence the content of Weymouth’s Neighbourhood Plan as the deadline to submit comments is fast approaching – Friday 15th December. We take a deep dive into our next main theme in the plan, Affordable Homes. This piece is written by Weymouth resident and Chair of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, Cllr David Northam.
Affordable Homes can mean different things to different people but can broadly be described as those which are for sale or rent, for people whose needs are not met by the housing market.
David says: “In all the feedback we’ve had from residents up to now, we’re hearing that there is a need for Affordable Homes for local people. Residents have also raised second home ownership, some of which are used as holiday lets, as another reason why many local families and professionals are priced out of the local housing market. The plan has a Principal Residency policy limiting this. On new developments.
“But Weymouth desperately needs more social housing and to address this we’ve had to also look at new greenfield sites not already allocated in the existing Local Plan. Sites are either classed as greenfield – not developed, usually agricultural. Or brownfield – previously developed. The proposed development on new greenfield sites would be compensated by giving areas of land over to a local nature park or public open space for example and requiring developers to retain things like hedgerows and include measures to up the ante on biodiversity measures on new build sites.
“The Weymouth Housing Needs Analysis report says that over 17 years between 1,775 and 2,649 Affordable Homes are needed mainly to rent in Weymouth. In September of this year, the Dorset Housing Register had around 540 households with a local connection looking for somewhere to live. What Weymouth needs is more social housing. This is usually provided by Housing Associations.
“So, what does the Weymouth Neighbourhood Plan say about Affordable Homes? It focuses on increasing the supply of social housing by allocating six sites, across Weymouth, for nearly 1,000 homes. Policy WNP22 sets the requirements for Affordable Housing; on the greenfield sites so that half will be Affordable Homes. These would be available to people on the housing register at social or affordable rents prioritising those with a local connection or key workers.
“It also identifies different approaches to encourage the right housing to come forward (Policy WNP30-34), requires newly built homes are principal residencies (Policy WNP35) and not second homes or holiday rentals, and are better built for carbon neutrality, resource efficiency, biodiversity net gain, and climate change management (Policy WNP37).
Please comment on the Plan and the policies which are available to view online and in libraries where you can get support to fill in the short survey.
The online questionnaire is available at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/LKTT63N.
Make sure you feed back by 5pm on Friday 15th December at the latest.