Can a National Park promote affordable homes for local people?

The Government says this about National Park Authorities:

‘The Authorities have an important role to play as planning authorities in the delivery of affordable housing. Through their Local Development Frameworks they should include policies that pro-actively respond to local housing needs.’

House prices in parts of Dorset are high in relation to local wage rates. The NP’s ability to promote truly affordable housing will help local people.

 

For example, the South Downs NPA (our close and most relevant comparator) has a policy that 40% of homes built should be affordable and available for local people. The aim is that these homes should be managed by providers that do not operate a right to buy policy. Rents can be well below market rents while covenants on the houses ensure they will remain available for local people and that rents will be kept low.

 

Recent approvals by the South Downs NPA include a development of over 400 homes, of which 40% are affordable homes for rent through a Housing Association, on a brownfield site in Lewes.

 

See also our briefing paper “A National Park Promotes Affordable Homes

 

 

Are house prices higher in the NP than in neighbouring areas?

The affordability of homes is a problem in the South and Southwest where people have long sought out the beauty and quality of the local environment. It is difficult to disentangle house prices from the attractiveness of a location’s environment and heritage. NPs are in areas of high landscape quality and house prices reflect this. Equally there are areas where house prices are high (such as areas in Dorset) but where there is no NP nor, in some cases, an AONB. The Planning Inspector for the public inquiry into the Lakes – Dales NP extension said that the evidence was not conclusive either way. The NP can help by addressing the local need for affordable housing for local people.

 
 

 

Will the National Park increase development pressures on neighbouring areas?

There is no reason why the National Park should result in increased development pressures on neighbouring areas.

 

NPAs consult and work closely with neighbouring and partner local authorities. Housing is one example of partnership working, along with the economic, social, educational and transport needs of local communities. In this, NPAs reflect their statutory duty to foster the economic and social well-being of their communities, as well as the duty to cooperate with neighbouring authorities.

 

NPs are not against development; they approve a higher percentage of planning applications, and do so faster, than other local authorities. This is because NPAs work with local communities and others to achieve appropriate development in the right places.

 

The South Downs NP (our most relevant comparator) approved more homes in the 4 years since its inception in 2011 than were approved by their partner authorities in the previous 4 years. Approvals include two major developments each of over 400 homes. In one case this involves the regeneration of a significant brownfield heritage site near Midhurst, another includes 40% affordable homes (for rent through a Housing Association) on another long-standing brownfield site in Lewes.

 

Will the NP use the Neighbourhood and Local Plans that have been developed or start afresh with a new plan?

The NP will take as its starting point the Neighbourhood and Local Plans that exist. It then consults on and develops a NP Local Plan.

 

The South Downs NPA first developed a broad Partnership Management Plan that set the strategy and context. It then developed a draft Local Plan in close consultation with all its partner local authorities, communities and other stakeholders. The SDNPA has worked with interested local communities to promote the development of Neighbourhood Plans as an important contribution to its draft Local Plan.

 

NPs are not subject to government housing targets. But government policy asks NPs, in their local plans, to “include policies that pro-actively respond to local housing needs,” including a focus on meeting affordable housing requirements to support local employment opportunities and key services.