BDOG wishes to make it absolutely clear that we are not against more affordable housing for Newport In fact some of our members have pressed as hard as anybody for a high proportion of affordable housing in any developments .
1. What is Affordable Housing ?
According to the PCNPA Local Development Plan, (Glossary)
“Affordable housing is housing for sale or rent at prices below the market rate. It will be reserved in perpetuity by the use of Section 106 agreements or conditions as affordable housing where a private developer is involved. Housing Associations will not be required to enter into such obligations but may wish to enter into voluntary lettings agreements. Affordable housing will be provided for local people in unsuitable housing who cannot afford to resolve their housing needs in the open market.”
Planning Policy Wales Technical Advice Note (TAN) 2:
Planning and Affordable Housing (2006) states that:
“Local planning authorities must set out in their development plan their definition of ‘local need’ for affordable housing in rural areas, within the overall aim of contributing to the delivery of sustainable communities. This can include:
• existing households needing separate accommodation in the area ;
• people whose work provides essential services and who need to live closer to the local community;
• people with a family connection or long standing links with the local community; and
• people with a job offer in the locality who require affordable housing. “
No such definition can be found in the PCNPA LDP 2010 (but see point 5 below)
2. PCNPA Policy Context
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Local Development Plan2010 – 2021
Adopted September 2010.
Quoting from Policy 45 Affordable Housing (Strategy Policy)
“To deliver affordable housing the National Park Authority will, as part of the overall housing provision, inter-alia:
a) Seek to negotiate 50% affordable housing to meet the identified need in developments of 2 or more units in housing developments in all Centres identified in the Plan Area with the following exceptions where a higher percentage will be negotiated: Tenby (60%), Newport (70%), Saundersfoot (60%), Dale (80%), Dinas Cross (100%) and New Hedges (60%).
Where it can be proven that a proposal is unable to deliver (ie the proposal would not be financially viable) in terms of the policy requirements of the Plan (ie for affordable housing provision, sustainable design standards expected and community infrastructure provision) priority will be given to the delivery of affordable housing in any further negotiations, provided that it can be demonstrated that the proposal would not unduly overburden existing community infrastructure provision.”
Table 7 is headed “Allocations of Housing Sites (see Proposals Map and Appendix 2) with a footnote
“Please see Background Papers ‘Site Criteria and Housing Background Paper’ for more information…”
The information given on Newport in Table 7 is
“Location: Newport; Proposals Map ID HA825; Site Name: North of Feidr Eglwys; Area 1.5 hectares; Residential units: 20; % of Affordable Units: 70; Affordable Housing Provision expected: 14”
However, when the reader turns as directed to Appendix 2 entitled “Allocations – Where considered necessary, further advice is provided on some of the allocations proposed in the Plan”, the following is stated under the reasoned justification for this site:
“HA 825 – Land North of Feidr Eglwys, Newport”
“Development of this site will need to respect the character and setting of the Conservation Area and church and additional and significant planting within the site area will be required.
The density of development will need to (sic) limited to 12 dwellings to ensure that it does not harm the character of the area and to meet access constraints.
It is not known whether there is an archaeological resource on site which would further constrain the development of this site. Geophysical survey and trial trenching are recommended by Dyfed Archaeological Trust prior to submitting an application in order to ascertain the type and extent of the resource.
Site has been identified as having likely significant effect on Natura 2000 sites and should be subject to Habitats Regulations Assessment.”
The significance of this is explained within “Synopsis of Current Legal Advice as to why Planning Application NP/15/0194/FUL ought to be refused by PCNPA” Link
3. What affordable housing is there within this planning application?
The proposal is for 1 one-bedroomed house, 6 one-bedroomed flats/maisonettes, 5 two-bedroomed houses, and 2 three-bedroomed houses, making a total of 14 units of accommodation providing 23 bedrooms in total
14 units of housing accommodation represent 40% of the total number on the site of 35
4. What sort of affordable housing will this be?
The application form NP/15/194 describes this as “Social Rented Housing”
The Planning Statement by Harries Design and Management states
“It is intended to dispose of this element direct to a local housing association and positive discussions have taken place with Pembrokeshire Housing Association”
With regard to securing affordable housing, Para 12.2 of TAN 2 (Welsh Government Technical Advice Note 2 (Planning and Affordable Housing)) states:
“Development plans and/or Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) should set out the circumstances where local planning authorities will use planning conditions or planning obligations to ensure that the affordable housing provided is occupied in perpetuity by people falling within particular categories of need”
The PCNPA’s Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) on Affordable Housing November 2014 has the following to say in relation to s.106 agreements and “Determination of Planning Application”
“4.4 -3.“The normal mechanism for dealing with affordable housing contributions will be via Section 106 Agreements, attached to planning permissions…
5.8 Planning permission will be granted when the s106 is signed.
5.9 If the Section 106 agreement is not signed within the 8 week determination period for the application (or in exceptional circumstances within a longer period where agreed in writing with the Authority) the National Park Authority will refuse the planning application.”
Note: Whilst the Developer’s “Planning Statement” states that “There is no objection to the provision of developer contributions” there is no signed s106 agreement with the application
5. Who will live in any “Affordable housing” provided on the site?
If this is eventually Housing Association social rented housing, then the following will apply
“In recent years the initial lettings in new housing association developments have first been made available to households either in the local area or with a connection to it A household from out of county may have a local connection, but this tends to be when they are moving to an area to provide support to a relative who requires care, or where they have previously lived in the area. “
The definition of what is classed as ‘local’ varies dependant on the location of the development but with this development in Newport it is likely to mean Newport County Council Ward and those Wards immediately surrounding it.
(Information in email communication from Andrew Davies-Wrigley, Private Sector Housing & Housing Strategy Manager Housing Commissioning, Pembrokeshire County Council County Hall)
Note : National Planning policy on affordable housing is contained in Planning Policy Wales, Edition 6 (February 2014), Technical Advice Note 2: Planning and Affordable Housing (2006) and Technical Advice Note 6: Planning for Sustainable Rural Communities.
6. In what ways is the affordable housing, as currently planned and designed, in NP/15/194 for the Feidr Eglwys site in conflict with “Affordable Housing Capacity Assessment” Potential Site Analysis for Site 825 North of Feidr Eglwys, Newport PCNPA 27th February 2009
The Capacity Statement states :
“Although the site is well screened, the density of the development will need to be restricted to ensure that it does not harm the character of the area. Landscaping within the site will be necessary to maintain effective screening”
Harries Design and Management dismisses this assessment
– see page 6 of the application Planning Statement 30/03/15
“The above impacts were assessed at allocation stage without the benefit of relevant survey and investigation and so the initially low allocation numbers represent a conservative reaction to perceived constraints on the site”
7. In what ways is the affordable housing, as currently planned and designed, in NP/15/194 for the Feidr Eglwys site in conflict with Planning Policy Wales Technical Advice Note 2 Planning and Affordable Housing?
Tan 2 states under
11.1 As set out in Planning Policy Wales16, good design can protect the environment and enhance its quality, help to attract business and investment, promote social inclusion and improve the quality of life. These objectives apply equally to market housing and to affordable housing, the overriding principle being to establish a sense of place and community.
For small sites the visual integration of old and new development is of particular importance. Affordable housing should also be indistinguishable from market housing provided on the same site, in terms of external design quality and materials.”
The application drawings show how the affordable housing is separated from the open-market housing by a surrounding hedge The affordable housing has its own separate access from the public highway so that residents don’t use the open-market housing access To reach the “open space” on the site, residents of affordable housing have to walk out onto the road (where there are no pavements) and re-enter the estate at another point and walk down a road on the site which also has no pavements. There is no safe pavement from home towards town for affordable housing residents, just for those in open-market housing.
Thus, the development is in conflict with Planning Policy Wales 7 Chapter 04 Planning for Sustainability
“4.11.4 Good design is also inclusive design. The principles of inclusive design are that it places people at the heart of the design process, acknowledges diversity and difference, offers choice where a single design solution cannot accommodate all users, provides for flexibility in use, and provides buildings and environments that are convenient and enjoyable to use for everyone (Section 3.4).”
8. In what ways is the affordable housing, as currently planned and designed, in NP/15/194 for the Feidr Eglwys site in conflict with PCNPA Supplementary Planning Guidance?
(Note: It is stated in the Introduction to PCNPA’s Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) on Affordable Housing November 2014 that this
“is one of a series of SPG documents which provide detailed information on how policies contained in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Local Development Plan (LDP) will be applied in practice by the National Park Authority.”
Supplementary Planning Guidance may be taken into account as a material planning consideration, but the determination must be made in accordance with the Local Development Plan unless material considerations indicate otherwise.
See “Legal Advice as to why Planning Application NP/15/0194/FUL ought to be refused by PCNPA”.
In compliance with TAN 2 as quoted above, PCNPA SPG Affordable Housing 2011 produced by the Authority after the LDP 2010 was adopted, states under “Design Requirements” @ Paragraph 10.2 page 15, as follows :
“Schemes should respect the character and distinctiveness of the area in which they are being built and should be externally indistinguishable from general market housing provided on the site. Affordable units should not be concentrated in one area but dispersed in smaller groupings throughout the site. This will help produce mixed and diverse communities.”
These design requirements were shared with the comparable supplementary guidance adopted by Pembrokeshire County Council, and which had begun life as a joint supplementary planning document, under the auspices of the old Joint Unitary Development Plan (2006).
Unfortunately, these design requirements have been completely removed from the current National Parks SPG The Authority’s website now states that the entire 2011 documentation has now been fully replaced by a subsequent SPG document on Affordable Housing, dated November 2014, and produced for the Authority instead by Nathaniel Lichfield Partners Inc.
The current 2014 document simply states under “Affordable Housing Requirements” sub heading “Design”
“Design considerations must be taken into account and factored into viability considerations”!
(Emphasis and exclamation added)
“The National Park Authority is the planning authority for the National Park and development will naturally require a high standard of design due to the high landscape quality of the area. However it is important to note that good design does not necessarily have to be expensive design.”(4.16)
Consequently, with these changes the current position arguably puts us in a topsy turvy situation, where the planning guidance on design of Affordable Housing in the County, is now more stringent and rigorous than here in the Park.!
9. In what ways is the affordable housing, as currently planned and designed, in NP/15/194 for the Feidr Eglwys site in conflict with Planning Policy Wales Technical Advice Note (TAN)6
TAN 6 states under 4.2 .3 Affordable Housing
“In smaller settlements and clusters, planning authorities should proactively engage with the local community and rural housing enablers to bring forward sites for affordable homes to meet local needs. The objective should be to develop a clear vision of how the local need for affordable housing can be met and the sustainability of the community as a whole enhanced….”
The application is for 14 units of affordable housing but also for 21 open-market units of housing accommodation including 12 houses with 4+ bedrooms, and 5 houses with 3 bedrooms. This sort of housing is unlikely to meet local needs which is for affordable homes and also for smaller life time housing to which local people can downsize, releasing larger houses for families. Newport already had approximately 38% of houses “not in full time occupation” at the time of the 2011 census and this proportion is increasing. The sustainability of this community depends on increasing the proportion of residents who live here full time. Newport does not need more second homes/holiday homes.