Excerpts from Parish Council Meeting Reports in the Parish Magazine, on the topics of Affordable Housing and planning “exception sites”
The chairman acknowledged receipt of the Hampshire Alliance for Rural Affordable Housing (HARAH) report, which was now available on the parish web site. Councillor Walmsley noted that there had already been 52 downloads from the site.
Several members of the public expressed concern about the report. These included, increased traffic congestion in Compton village; the relevance of the Village Design Statement (VDS) and Parish Plan; the need to investigate other potential sites within the parish, including Compton Down; clarification on the next steps and the establishment of a process for villagers to express their personal views on the report.
The chairman advised that, together with officials from HARAH, she had looked at several sites outside Compton village, including Compton House, but none had proved suitable. She added that the council would discuss the report in detail at its next meeting on 5 March 2013, when HARAH officials will be present. Parishioners who wished to make personal comments on the report, should forward them to the clerk. The final decision on the development of affordable housing, within the parish, lay with the Parish Council.
Councillor Jeffrey offered to obtain more information on potential highways issues, especially with regard to site 11 (Warner’s Farm). She agreed to liaise with County Councillor Bailey, who is a member of HCC’s highways committee.
Given public interest in this subject, the council also considered a change of venue for the meeting on 5 March 2013. The clerk was asked to consult the head teacher at Compton school, to see if the school hall could be made available. [Because of health and safety considerations, imposed by Hampshire County Council, this has not proved possible.]
Councillor Jeffrey reported that the affordable housing exhibition, on 30 November 2012, had been well attended (more than ninety people had signed in) and that the format had seemed to work well. The chairman advised that, following expressions of concern about the short deadline for comments (of which the Parish Council had not been advised), she had spoken to HARAH officials and it had been agreed that the deadline would be extended until 4 January 2013. She added that HARAH’s draft report should still be available in time for the council’s 5 February 2013 meeting, which would allow councillors one month for deliberation and consultation before its meeting on 5 March 2013. Their views and comments would then be included in the Annual Report, which will be distributed to all households within the parish in early April. Affordable housing would also be on the agenda for the Annual Parish Meeting on 25 April 2013.
In response to question from Mr Caldwell, the chairman explained that the Parish Council had been trying to identify potential exception sites for affordable housing for over twenty years. She emphasised that the process was very much in its early stages of discussion and that the Parish Council intended to keep parishioners informed throughout.
The council noted that WCC, supported by the Parish Council, would be holding a public exhibition in the Reeves Scout Hall on Friday 30 November 2012 to identify sites within the parish deemed suitable for affordable housing.
Councillor Bell presented his paper on proposals for affordable housing within the parish. It was agreed that the council should progress with the development of local affordable housing in Compton by holding a community event this autumn to identify the sites proposed by Winchester City Council (WCC), their suitability, and the type of development(s) envisaged. The event should be organised in coordination with the Rural Housing Enabler, Winchester City Council.
Following a discussion on the issues raised by Councillor Evans in her report on exception sites, the council agreed to establish a planning sub-committee, charged with producing a draft plan on the future development of social housing within the parish. The sub-committee, which will comprise of Councillors Bell, Evans and Townell, will also comment on the suitability of the potential sites identified by Winchester City Council.
Following the circulation of proposals for exception sites for social housing within the parish, Councillor Evans had met WCC officials. She had discovered that HCC continued to have concerns about the use of sites 4 & 5 (to the north of Martins Field and Attwoods Drove). The council agreed that it should accept the offer to meet Robin Edwards, HCC County Farms Estate, to see whether these concerns could be overcome.
The council also discussed the WCC proposals for ‘exception sites’ for social housing within the parish and agreed that Councillor Evans should accept the invitation to a meeting with the WCC team.
Councillor Beckett reported that he intended to speak to Councillor Thornber about the land to the north of Martins Fields that HCC considers to be a ‘specialist farm’ and, therefore, cannot be released for use as affordable housing. He was liaising closely with WCC Planning Department on the conversion of the Compton Post Office building into affordable housing but felt that there may be a delay until new legislation on council owned properties comes into force in the spring of 2012.
Councillor Evans expressed concern that since Hampshire County Council (HCC) considers the land to the north of Martins Fields to be a ‘specialist farm’ it cannot be released for use as affordable housing. She also wondered why there had been no action on the redevelopment of the old post office building in Compton. Councillor Beckett agreed to investigate both issues.
The council noted that, in his memorandum of 31 August 2010, the WCC Planning Officer Neil Mackintosh had rejected all the rural exception sites suggested by John Lancaster, Community Action Hampshire, with the sole exception of site 5, i.e.to the north of Martins Fields.
Social and Affordable Housing
The main item on the agenda of this month’s meeting was social and affordable housing. John Lancaster, Community Action Hampshire, briefed councillors on his report on potential ‘rural exception sites’ for social and affordable housing in Compton and Shawford. Mr Lancaster advised the council that he had conducted an exhaustive examination of land within the settlement boundaries and concluded that there are no potential sites that could be developed or redeveloped.
Nine possible exception sites had been explored but only one appeared to be acceptable to the Winchester City Council Planning Department. Known as site 5, this area is to the north of existing properties in Martins Fields. Mr Lancaster suggested that this site could accommodate three pairs of semi-detached properties but it would be important to soften the impact on the landscape and marry the extension into the existing development.
In the subsequent discussion, which included comments from representatives of the Compton Tenants’ Association, councillors agreed that site 5 provided a reasonable area for the development of social and affordable housing but, given current parking problems in Martins Fields, any future plans should include a suitable provision for parked vehicles.
Social & Affordable Housing
Councillor Evans confirmed that a representative of Hampshire Alliance for Rural Affordable Housing (HARAH) had visited the parish to look at potential sites. The report on the visit to the parish by John Lancaster, Community Action Hampshire, had yet to be received.
Councillor Stevens reported that she visited the site of a social housing complex in Littleton shortly before Christmas and that another article on the need for a quiet surface on the M3 should appear in the Hampshire Chronicle in the near future.
Because of concerns expressed by councillors in the past about a shortage of affordable housing within the parish, Councillor Evans briefed the council on WCC’s policy on “rural exception sites” i.e. sites that currently lie outside the parish’s defined planning area but could be made available for “affordable housing” for local needs. Following discussion it was agreed that Community Action Hampshire (CAH) should be invited to undertake an inspection of the parish to identify any potential “rural exception sites”. It was also suggested that a CAH representative should be invited to make a presentation at a council meeting and/or the annual parish meeting on 28 April 2010.
Rural Housing Enabler
The meeting commenced with a brief presentation from Gordon Richardson, Rural Housing Enabler. As part of Community Action Hampshire, the Rural Housing Enabler assists Parish Councils in determining affordable housing needs within a Parish, assists with identifying areas of land which have the potential for development for such housing and assists in the negotiation with Landowners and the relevant Planning Authorities. Under the management of the Planning Committee it was determined that the subject of providing Affordable Housing within the Parish of Compton and Shawford would be further investigated.
Winchester District Local Plan-Providing for Housing Requirements.
It was decided to consult Compton Tenants’ Association about the provision of housing at the end of Martins Fields, which would involve the removal of the land from Countryside Status. Depending on the results of those consultations, the Parish Council may then raise the matter with Hampshire Voluntary Housing Society.
Winchester District Local Plan – Providing for Housing Requirements
A letter had been received from the Chief Planning Officer, WCC, seeking to involve Parish Councils in the process of identifying appropriate sites. This matter will be debated by the PC Planning Committee.
Planning – Appleshaw House.
After Mr Nigel Sloper of the Winchester District Housing Association explained the proposals for the site, the Council decided to support the application for nine self-contained flats with associated parking on the condition that planning permission be restricted to use for affordable housing for rent, with preference given to applicants having strong local connections. Mr. Sloper pointed out that the 1996 Housing Act gives the Association greater powers concerning tenants who prove unsuitable or disruptive.
Sites for affordable housing in Compton
Correspondence with Hampshire Voluntary Housing Society and the City Council revealed that the site at the end of Martins Fields was ruled out both by the County Council’s intention to retain the land within its farm estate and by the site’s location in the Strategic Gap. Without further work to prove the need and assess alternative sites, it now appears that there is little prospect of such a development within the village.
Site for affordable housing in Compton.
A letter had been received from Hampshire Voluntary Housing Society, advising that the Parochial Church Council, on 25 September 1997, re-affirmed the policy that the land opposite the Church in Compton Street should not be developed. The Society also advised that HCC have stated that the land originally earmarked at the end of Martins Fields cannot be used for affordable housing because it is in the “strategic gap”. Chairman to write to WCC to seek clarification on the policy covering this matter.
Affordable Housing in Compton
Following a letter from the Hampshire Voluntary Housing Society, advising that the land opposite the Church is not available for development, the Parish Council will write to ask the Society why they are apparently no longer considering the site in Martins Fields, which was the land originally earmarked for possible development.
Proposed affordable housing at Compton.
A letter had been received from the Hampshire Voluntary Housing Society advising that they are seeking a meeting with The Reverend PLS Barrett about the use of Church Field, Compton Street. Councillors were advised that as the church had purchased the land explicitly to prevent its being built on, it is extremely unlikely that any development would be allowed.
Affordable Housing – Compton.
It was agreed to write to the Hampshire Voluntary Housing Society to determine whether HCC are pursuing the original site for housing at Martins Fields, Compton or another site for two pairs of houses in Compton with the main road.
Affordable Housing – Compton
A letter had been received from Hampshire Voluntary Housing Society advising that HCC is favourably considering provision of a site for two pairs of semi-detached houses near the entrance to Compton Street rather than the site earlier studied at the end of Martins Fields. This is due to be discussed at their Land Sub-Committee meeting on 12 June.
Affordable Housing Scheme – Land at Martins Field, Compton
A letter from Hampshire Voluntary Housing Society, dated 22 October, stated that they will be bidding for capital grant within the next three weeks and at the same time will contact HCC to instigate a land acquisition process and will advise the Parish Council of the precise site availability as soon as possible.
Affordable Housing Scheme – Land at Martins Field, Compton
The Parish Council is awaiting results of a questionnaire distributed to households in the village.
City Councillor G Beckett reported that Winchester City Council are carrying out a study of the under-occupation of three bedroomed houses in Stanmore, Winchester and the possible application of findings to Compton.
Cllr Mrs Millar reported that a meeting with the Hampshire Voluntary Housing Society revealed that it is necessary to, again, carry out a parish housing need survey before any further progress can be made on the Affordable Housing Scheme proposed on land in Compton. Questionnaires will be distributed throughout the parish shortly.
Following Winchester City Council’s change of policy regarding the site for low cost housing in Martins Field, Compton, the City Council is again to be asked to review the matter, and our District Councillor is asking HCC to review again all possible sites.
Following Winchester City Planning Department’s U turn from their initial acceptance of suitability of the Martins Fields extension site for small scale low cost housing development, it was agreed to make a lengthy detailed submission asking Winchester City Council to reinstate their original policy.
Members noted correspondence between Hampshire Voluntary Housing Society and Winchester City Council, wherein the Society, following a resurvey of lands in the parish, submitted that the Martins Fields site still appears to be the only location suitable for a development to satisfy local housing need. The correspondence asked Winchester City Council to consider again the Martins Fields site following their recently amended views on the suitability of this site.
A letter had been received from The Hampshire Voluntary Housing Society advising that Winchester City Council has recently amended its view on the suitability of the land at Martins Field, Compton, for a Social Housing development. The letter also stated that a further analysis was required by WCC, to identify all vacant land, and to assess this land with regard to suitability for development. The Parish Council expressed concern and great disappointment with the changed view of the City Council and are to discuss the matter with The Hampshire Voluntary Housing Society shortly.