Jones Homes: Resident's Letter
Dear Chelford Parish Council,
RE: Planning Application 16/0504M for 94 dwellings on the Stobart site
From its inception over five years ago, Chelford residents have strongly supported this development on the basis that the village would be provided with a mixed development of homes both to encourage families to come and live in Chelford and to enable local families to stay within their own community.
Net migration of families into the village is vital if Chelford is to remain sustainable and retain all the facilities which currently serve the residents of Chelford and the neighbouring villages.
As a resident of Chelford, I am in general agreement with the market housing. However, I do have some concerns about the design of the 'affordable housing' with regard to the needs of Chelford and the need to maintain the village as a sustainable community. The purpose of my letter is to raise the question whether or not this proposal promotes the sustainability of Chelford.
Jones Homes has applied the CEC policy of 30% of affordable houses, however, there are some important and essential planning needs which appear to have been missed out. For example, CEC's policy is that the affordable housing should be pepper-potted throughout the site and not segregated from market housing. The same applies to the design of affordable housing, in that it must be materially indistinguishable (in terms of outward design and appearance) from the market housing of similar size within the development. Having a large block of affordable social rental, 1-bedroom flats does not constitute pepper-potting or having affordable housing which is indistinguishable from the market accommodation.
Jones Homes has chosen to provide 12 one-bedroom apartments for social rental as part of 28 dwellings of the affordable allocation. The final plan for affordable housing in the previous application was for houses only.
No previous proposal for social rented housing contained a provision for apartments and residents have not had opportunity, until now, to comment on this. Although, across the county, there may well be a need for this type of accommodation for young single people, the Housing Needs Survey, showed that the chief requirement for affordable housing in Chelford was for family houses. The main reason that families in affordable housing have left Chelford in recent months is the lack of affordable, 3-bedroom houses which would accommodate an expanding family. The current Jones Homes plan makes no provision for these essential 3-bedroom affordable housing.
The Cheshire East Council SHMA update in 2013 shows annual affordable housing requirements for a 'sub-area' consisting of Mobberley, Chelford and Alderley Edge Parishes. The needs for this sub-area are shown as 16 1-bedroom, 17 2-bedroom and 11 3-bedroom affordable housing annually. However there is no information specifically about Chelford and given the difference in size and the more urban character of the other two parishes, it is perhaps more likely that the 16 1-bedroom housing would be more needed in these other parishes.
Although there may be a small uptake of the one-bedroomed social rental apartments, I am also concerned that young Chelford people would either not qualify for this social rental housing or they would probably require a 2-bedroom dwelling with the plan of co-habitation and starting a family. The logical consequence of this would be that even with the cascade of allocation of affordable housing to local residents as described in the 106 agreement, these flats would most likely go to people from outside the immediate neighbourhood and therefore not benefit residents from Chelford and the surrounding villages.
In terms of social rental one-bedroomed accommodation for older folks, Chelford already has around 40 such dwellings and these are much more appropriately situated in Elmstead Road. In addition, any older residents viewing the new apartments as an option for down-sizing from their current family home, would not qualify for these social rental dwellings if they owned their own homes.
Since the planning condition is that rural, affordable housing must remain as affordable in perpetuity, whatever mix of affordable housing is provided now must reflect a healthy, balanced demographic in order to sustain our rural community into the future.
Therefore, the village will need an appropriately balanced mixture of market houses and 1, 2 and 3-bedroom affordable accommodation to maintain a viable cross-section of age groups. In my opinion, Jones' proposed plan of affordable housing currently does not provide this balance.
I would ask the Parish Council to consider these points in their discussion of this application and to ensure that the residents are appropriately informed so that they too may consider these points in making their comments on the planning application.