What is “affordable housing”?
Langton Matravers is a great place to live. We live in the heart of beautiful Purbeck, where we can enjoy a peaceful life and benefit from the many outdoor pursuits on our doorstep. For example, we have 21 miles of public footpaths in the parish and we are only 3 miles from good access to the sea. The village has a primary school, a Post Office and shop, a farm butcher’s shop, a thriving pub, an active CofE Church, its own museum, well-appointed and managed allotments, popular campsites and a regular bus service to and from Poole. But we also have a problem: because it is such a popular place, many people want to own properties here, the result is that many of our houses are second homes and property prices mean that young people find it impossible to buy a house in the village. If Langton becomes a settlement of just well-to-do house owners and second homes it will stagnate. We need the diversity – people of all ages and all income ranges. That means we need to provide affordable housing to restore the balance and this is the primary aim of our CLT.
Just about everyone agrees that affordable housing is a good thing. National and local government try to promote it. But it means different things to different people. To property developers it’s to do with the minimum number of cheap houses that they must offer in order to get permission to build high priced houses. To us, it’s about providing housing for people in the Langton community who cannot afford open market prices and to do that in a way that ensures that the housing permanently stays affordable. So, for us, there is one thing that affordable housing is not: it is not an easy way of getting on to the property ladder. The affordable housing will remain an asset for the community as a whole, to be used for the benefit of the whole community. It cannot be sold on and it remains affordable for ever.
To be clear; affordable housing is not the same as social housing. We are not trying to provide housing for everyone and certainly not for free.
What sort of housing are we talking about?
Affordable housing is intended for Langton people who cannot afford the high cost of regular housing in the village. That means mostly families and single people and some retired people. We are intending, initially, to build 10 houses but have not yet decided on the mix.
Who is it for?
The housing is for people in the Langton community. That is people who have close, long-term ties with the village; they may work here or have family here; maybe they are living in the village with their parents and want a house of their own.
How affordable is “affordable”?
The proposed model for ownership of the homes is for the CLT itself to own the freehold and to work with a suitable housing association (yet to be selected) under a long-term lease. This lease will enable the housing assocciation to fund, develop and manage the homes in accordance with the wishes of the community and (if an exception site is developed) under the terms of a Section 106 Agreement with the Council.
This model has been tried and tested by many other CLTs in the South West and is explained at http://wessexca.co.uk
The maximum rent that can be charged is the Local Housing Allowance (i.e. the most that can be covered by Housing Benefit if a someone is unable to work) or 80% of the market rent for a similar sized property, whichever is the lowest. It is our aim to achieve the lowest rent possible, hopefully less than the 80% figure.