In a report published in December 2014, the Rural Housing Alliance has stated that ‘For many rural households, finding somewhere affordable in their local community remains a barrier, with homes costing over eight times the average salary in 90% of rural local authority areas. This is an affordability gap which, in many areas, is even more extreme given low paid rural employment.’
Small developments of local needs housing schemes can provide affordable housing for local people, thereby enabling them to stay in their community and contribute to village life. This can make a real difference to the vitality of village services. The Rural Housing Enabler (RHE) undertook a parish wide survey to ascertain if there are shortfalls in affordable housing provision within the parish of Hever which includes the villages of Hever, Markbeech and Four Elms. This was funded by Sevenoaks District Council.
This report provides overall information as well as analysis of housing need.
A survey was posted to every household within the parish in May 2018.
516 surveys were distributed with 127 surveys being returned, representing a 25% response rate.
Analysis of the returned survey forms identified that 83% of respondents are owner occupiers.
67% of respondents have lived in the parish for over 10 years.
High property prices and a predominance of privately owned homes means that some local people are unable to afford a home within the parish.
At the time of writing the report the cheapest property for sale in the parish was a 1 bed apartment for £200,000; to afford to buy this home a deposit of approximately £30,000 would be required and an income of £48,571. The cheapest 2 bedroom property was for sale at £399,500; a deposit of £59,925 and income of £97,021 would be required to afford this home. To afford to rent privately an income of approximately £79,800 would be required to rent the cheapest and only property found available to rent in the parish which was a 3 bed house for £1995 pcm.
Overall, a need for up to 12 affordable homes, for the following local households was identified:
- 3 single people
- 4 couples
- 5 families
- 11 households currently live in one of the villages and 1 lives outside and wants to return
The 12 respondents in need of affordable housing indicated strong local connections to the villages of Hever, Four Elms and Markbeech. 7 respondents are currently living with relatives, 2 are housing association tenants and 3 are renting privately.
In total there are 19 adults and 9 children who have a need for affordable housing.
The survey also identified a requirement for 5 homes for older households, aged 50 years and over:
- 1 single person
- 4 couples
- The 5 households all currently live in one of the villages
- 2 of the older households need affordable housing. These affordable homes are required in addition to the 12 affordable homes identified above.
When asked how many bedrooms respondents sought/preferred, the following answers were given:
2 x 1 bed
6 x 2 beds
3 x 3 beds
1 x 4 beds.
Actual size of property will depend upon the council’s allocation policy and Help to Buy eligibility, see below.
In total, 6 respondents indicated an interest in shared ownership and 7 in a starter home (some respondents indicated more than one option); none of the respondents appeared to be able to afford a starter home. 2 households who indicated starter homes only, were assessed for shared ownership. In total, 7 households indicated that they may be able to afford a shared ownership property. More detailed analysis of their income, amount of deposit they have available and actual cost of the shared ownership property would be required to confirm affordability.
The survey has identified a total need for 14 affordable homes.
LOCATION OF NEED
Affordable general needs housing = Four Elms x 8, Hever x 3, Outside the villages x 1
Older Persons = Four Elms x 2, Hever x 1, Markbeech x 2 (the 2 older households needing affordable housing both live in Four Elms).
SUPPORT / OBJECTION AND LOCATION SUGGESTIONS FROM QUESTIONNAIRE
As expected, wide range of opinion but the vast majority supporting some affordable housing and some interesting suggestions of locations (main ones);
6 suggested out of parish in Edenbridge
6 fields in Four Elms
4 Uckfield Lane
4 Four Elms village hall
HPC resolved at the meeting on 25.07.18 to form of Committee (2 Four Elms Councillors and the Clerk) to explore further with Sevenoaks District Council and Rural Housing Associations the options for the parish. This is the first of many steps and more detailed surveys and public consultations would follow. Noting recent work done by neighbouring parishes (Leigh, Chiddingstone) and time scales (> 2 years).
Next HPC meeting is Wednesday 25th September 7.30pm Hever village hall.
the full survey is below.