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. 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 local people 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 (planning and housing) 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 socially rented 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, namely Sovereign, Hastoe and Rural England responded to the invitation. All three organisations were formally interviewed by the Working Group in late March 2022 followed by a final due diligence exercise to select the most appropriate partner for WPC. 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 are now conducting a viability and sustainability assessment on the proposed sites and will advise the Working Group on their suitability. The public are encouraged at this stage to nominate additional sites for consideration.
The next stage will be to present these findings at the first of a series of public engagement meetings so that feedback can be obtained on the proposed sites and the outline development plans. The dates of these meetings will be published with good advanced notice to ensure as many of the community can be involved.
It may well take up to a further two years for a site to be completed and the first residents to move in.
The Winchfield Parish Council website will be updated as we progress the project.