On sites allocated for residential use the Council will seek to secure a housing mix which will meet the needs of the local community. Where there is evidence of a need for affordable housing the Council will negotiate for the provision of a proportion of housing to meet this need within the overall development.
3.26 Based upon the latest guidance, as set out in Planning Policy Guidance Note 3 - Housing, Cumbria County Council has indicated within the Structure Plan an expectation that provision will be made on large housing sites for a proportion of affordable housing to meet local needs. Addressing the situation found in Cumbria as a whole, the Structure Plan indicates that sites accommodating twenty or more dwellings will normally be taken as large sites for the purposes of implementing the relevant policy (Policy 32), a level which is considered appropriate for sites in urban areas of the District.
3.27 However, in many ways the rural parts of Eden are atypical, having very few settlements where developments of twenty or more dwellings might reasonably be expected. For this reason it is considered unrealistic to fix the level at which Policy HS5 should come into effect in respect of rural locations. Individual rural sites will therefore be considered in the relevant local context. The provision of affordable housing could be achieved either through the construction of dwellings for sale or by making part of a site available for development by a trust or housing association on terms which facilitate the provision of affordable housing.
Affordable Housing for Local Needs
The Council may exceptionally grant planning permission for small scale housing development, in addition to that permitted under policies HS1 and HS4, to meet specific local needs for affordable housing which cannot otherwise be met. In order to be considered for release such land will be assessed against those criteria set out in Policy HS4 and must also:
be related in scale to the level of substantiated need in the locality;
be the subject of an agreement (usually under Section 106) which will ensure both first and subsequent occupancy of the dwellings to people from the locality; and
be the subject of development and/or management proposals which will ensure the provision of housing at an affordable cost in perpetuity.
3.28 With the land allocations made in Policy HS1, together with outstanding commitments, there exists a substantial supply of housing land for open market development and until this supply has been significantly reduced it is not intended to permit the release of further sites. It is accepted, however, that due to market forces these sites may not be capable of being developed at affordable cost to meet local needs. In consequence, the Council is prepared to consider strictly limited further releases to meet proven local needs of this type. To be considered favourably any proposal must be the subject of some form of management arrangement, e.g. a local housing trust or housing association which is able to control the occupancy of property in perpetuity. Proposals which restrict first sales only will not be considered within this policy. Schemes submitted for consideration must be supported by evidence of the need it is intended to meet and by financial details to show the scheme to be viable and capable of providing affordable housing in the context of the local housing market. Due to the exceptional nature of schemes to provide affordable housing, the sites proposed may include some which are environmentally sensitive. The details of each proposal will be assessed, and must be judged acceptable against, the criteria set out in Policy HS4.
3.29 Substantial research has been undertaken within the District in order to assess the level of need for affordable housing. Through locally conducted surveys in some twenty parishes it has been established that about 8% of households are seeking accommodation yet are unable to compete on the open market. At a District level, this suggests that a total of some 1440 households face housing difficulties. The Council are actively pursuing projects which will contribute to meeting this need.
3.30 The following categories of need, as set out in Planning Policy Guidance Note 3, will be taken into account when assessing demand for affordable housing:
- existing residents needing separate accommodation in the area (e.g. newly married couples; people leaving tied accommodation on retirement);
- people whose work provides important services and who need to live closer to the local community;
- people who are not necessarily resident locally but have long-standing links with the local community (eg elderly people who need to move back to a village to be near relatives);
- people with the offer of a job in the locality who cannot take up the offer because of lack of affordable housing.
Housing for People with Physical Disabilities
3.31 A significant proportion of households in the District have at least one member with a physical disability. In the past little has been done to meet the particular needs of this part of the population except within special housing schemes. The result is that the housing needs of a significant part of the population remain unmet. The Council will therefore seek to facilitate through negotiation the provision of new housing which is more convenient for disabled people to live in and to visit. Guidance on appropriate standards may be found in the advisory guidance published by the Access Committee for England and the Centre for Accessible Environments.
Workers Dwellings in the Countryside
Policy NE1 indicates that development will not be permitted outside established settlements. Exceptionally, consent may be granted for a dwelling to meet a proven need. This will be for occupation by a farm or forestry worker with a demonstrable need for a dwelling in a particular locality or for a dwelling required in association with a rural enterprise where such a need can be substantiated. Applications for such dwellings will need to meet the following criteria:
that the overriding need justifying the dwelling can be substantiated;
that the scale of the proposed dwelling is commensurate with the established functional requirement of the enterprise concerned;
that the siting of the dwelling is well related to an existing building or group of buildings;
that the design and materials used respect local tradition and the setting concerned; and
that any impact upon landscape, archaeological or environmental conservation interests is acceptable.
Where consent is granted for a dwelling to meet a particular need under the terms of policy HS7 such consent will be subject to a condition which restricts the occupancy of the dwelling and, where appropriate, permits construction of the dwelling only once the associated enterprise is established. Where appropriate, occupancy conditions will be imposed also on existing dwellings on the unit under the control of the applicant and planning obligations sought to tie the new dwelling to the unit to prevent its sale separate from the unit without the grant of an express consent.
3.32 In accordance with Structure Plan Policy 13, which reflects long established national policy concerning residential development in the countryside, the Council will limit such development solely to that which has some essential justification with the intent of protecting the open and undeveloped character of the countryside. The countryside of the District represents an important natural asset, much of which has been recognised as being of outstanding natural beauty or landscape of county importance. Protection of this asset accords with Government guidance set out in Planning Policy Guidance Note 7 which indicates that the countryside should be safeguarded for its own sake.
3.33 The wording of HS7 does, however, indicate that the Council accepts that there are employment generating enterprises, in addition to agriculture and forestry, which are appropriate within the countryside and in association with which there may be a justifiable need for a dwelling. In all cases the stringent criteria set out will have to be met. In assessing the need for a dwelling the Council will have regard to the tests described in Annex E of PPG7. It will be necessary in particular for an applicant to be able to demonstrate that the functioning of the enterprise is dependant upon there being a resident worker and that such a requirement will continue to exist in the long term. Particular care will also be taken to ensure that any resulting dwelling is of a scale and design commensurate with the established functional requirement of the enterprise concerned.
3.34 Policy HS8 indicates the wide range of mechanisms identified in Planning Policy Guidance Note 7 which may be used to try and ensure that, where consent is given to meet a particular need, the dwelling will continue to meet that need. The Council regularly imposes occupancy conditions on new dwellings. Exceptionally more stringent controls, including planning agreements, may be considered appropriate. When seeking consent for a dwelling applicants should be able to demonstrate the basis for the need and will be required to provide evidence support the application.