Affordable Homes in Winchfield
In November 2020 the Parish Council engaged with Action Hampshire, a registered housing charity, and Hart District Council to investigate the need for affordable homes in the parish. Under the leadership of Action Hampshire a Housing Needs Survey was prepared, distributed to all households in the parish in February 2021 and resulted in an excellent 40% response rate.
The final report, attached below, provided an independent assessment of the need for affordable housing in the parish and detailed the results of the survey of those with a local connection to Winchfield. The findings in this report are based solely on the survey results. The report recommended a small development of 6-8 affordable homes located on a Rural Exception Site in the parish, which would prioritise homes for people with a local connection to Winchfield in perpetuity.
The Parish Council accepted the report on 15 September 2021 and a Working Group was set up, chaired by Action Hampshire with representatives from Hart District Council and Councillors Hodgetts and Williams from WPC. The Parish Council confirmed that a project should be initiated to determine the viability of a Rural Exception Site in the parish which would provide rented affordable properties, available in perpetuity, to those who have a direct connection with the parish.
A local connection means that the householder either lives or works in the parish or was previously resident in the parish and has close family members still residing in the parish or needs to live in the parish to give or receive essential support from a close family member who lives there. Hart District Council’s Rural Exception Site Policy H3 would be used to secure planning permission. This policy allows for small-scale development of affordable housing on land adjoining or closely related to villages which addresses a proven local need for affordable housing.
Action Hampshire instituted a process to contact all landowners in the parish to determine the availability of any suitable land for the Rural Exception Site. A letter from Action Hampshire calling for sites to provide affordable housing to meet local need is attached below and copies were distributed to all households and businesses in November 2021. A number of potential sites were put forward by the deadline of 31 December 2021.
The next stage in the process was to identify and appoint the Housing Provider. Three organisations responded to the invitation and were formally interviewed by the Working Group in March 2022 followed by a final due diligence exercise to select the most appropriate partner for Winchfield. English Rural was duly appointed and is now represented on the Working Group.
The planning team at Hart District Council in association with English Rural conducted a preliminary viability and sustainability assessment on the proposed sites and provided advice to the Working Group on their suitability. Two sites were shortlisted for public consultation.
The first of a series of public consultations was an online event arranged by English Rural to obtain feedback on an outline development on the proposed sites. The consultation commenced on Monday 20th February and closed on Sunday 5th March. Leaflets advertising the event were distributed to all properties in the Parish:
The link to the consultation can be found here
If we are successful in securing planning permission it may well take up to a further 18 months for houses to be completed and the first residents to move in.
The Winchfield Parish Council website will be updated as we progress the project.