Affordable Housing and Rural Exception Sites
What is Affordable Housing?
Affordable housing provides a home to those that are unable to afford to buy or rent a property on the open market. We need affordable housing in rural areas for a number of reasons:
- House prices in South Staffordshire are significantly higher than the regional and national averages, making it difficult for our young families, couples and single people to afford a house on the open market in their local area.
- Ensuring residents have the means to remain in their local area means rural communities continue to thrive and local services prosper.
- Without affordable housing, only those on higher household incomes could afford to live in our villages. Providing affordable homes allows for a mix of residents of all ages and incomes, creating a vibrant rural community.
- In some cases, development of affordable housing will also enable older people to downsize where preferred, but still remain in their local area. This then also frees up existing housing stock in the area for larger families.
Developing affordable housing in rural areas involves a number of different partners coming together to ensure any new scheme has a positive impact on the local community. The development will involve the Parish Council, District Council, landowners, registered providers (housing associations) and the local community.
One way of meeting the housing need in our villages, whilst protecting the rural environment our residents value, is through the development of rural exception sites.
What is a Rural Exception Site?
A rural exception site is an area of greenbelt land exempt from normal planning policy. Permission will be granted for limited development in exceptional circumstances where a clear need for housing has been proven. The properties built on this site will be affordable, and only available to those with a strong connection to the local area.
Development on a rural exception site will usually be carried out by a housing association, including consultation with the Parish Council, District Council and the local community. In order to ensure the housing remains reserved for local people (both on initial rent/sale and also in the future), a Section 106 agreement is drawn up and signed by the housing association and the Council.
This agreement will secure the new housing as affordable and available only to people connected with the local area. The local connection criteria will also be laid out in this agreement, which will then be used in the allocation of the properties to residents.
80% of our district is green belt, and rural exception sites are one way of balancing protection of this land with meeting housing need. Careful planning and preparation beforehand ensures the development is sustainable, with the type of housing provided appropriate in size and price to meet local need.
The rural exception site policy can be found in South Staffordshire Council's Adopted Core Strategy (Policy H3).
The Strategic Planning Team manages and maintains a register of persons who have an interest in local planning documents (Local Plan Database); those who wish to register their interest or land for future development on our Self and Custom Build Register and/or Strategic Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment (SHELAA); those who have commented on emerging Council strategy documents; and information regarding historic home improvement grants and empty properties. In order to do this in an effective way we will need to collect and use personal information about you. For more information about how we process this data see Strategic Planning Team - Data Protection.