Waveney Local Plan

Affordable Housing in the Countryside

8.33 Housing development in rural areas in recent times has been constrained to protect the intrinsic quality of the countryside and promote sustainable patterns of movement. However, there is significant demand to live in villages across the Country. The desirability of the countryside as a place to live, together with low supply of new premises means that house prices in the rural areas are higher than the District average. This means that homes in rural areas can be unaffordable for existing residents which can then undermine family and social networks.

8.34 This Local Plan aims to allocate a greater proportion of housing in general to the rural areas. This new housing will include an element of affordable housing in line with Policy WLP8.2. However, in some circumstances this may not be enough to meet local need which can change frequently over time. Additionally, not enough affordable housing will be delivered through Policy WLP8.2 to meet needs. Although the Local Plan allows for extra windfall development within settlement boundaries of villages, there are unlikely to be opportunities of a scale which will deliver affordable housing.

8.35 The National Planning Policy Framework encourages Councils to allow for small scale developments of affordable housing in the countryside on the edge of villages to meet local affordable housing need. This land would generally otherwise be unsuitable for residential development. This therefore lowers the land value and makes solely affordable housing schemes more viable. To further support viability, the Framework supports the provision of a small amount of market housing on these sites where necessary. These proposals are commonly referred to as rural exception sites.

8.36 Policy WLP8.6 allows for affordable housing schemes in the Countryside adjacent to villages. Proposals must meet an identified local need by accommodating households who are either current residents, have existing family connections to the area or have employment reasons for being in the area. Evidence should be provided with any planning application demonstrating this local need with any planning application.

8.37 Affordable housing provision of exception sites should follow a similar tenure mix to that required by Policy WLP8.2 (i.e. 50% affordable rent, 30% shared ownership and 20% starter homes). However, this mix can be amended to meet local circumstance as evidence of local need dictates. Affordable housing on exception sites can be provided by many different providers including the Council, housing association and housing cooperatives. Affordable housing could also be provided by self-build cooperatives providing it is secured as affordable housing in perpetuity. If self-build affordable housing takes the form of low-impact development where there is limited or benign environmental impact due to the materials used, management of land and lack of provision for motorised vehicles, the requirements for the development to be adjacent to a village could be relaxed.

8.38 Affordable housing proposals may contain an element of market housing to facilitate their delivery. A proposal should start from a position of 100% affordable housing with any market housing element being justified on the basis of a viability assessment. The element of market housing must be subsidiary to the affordable housing in terms of floorspace and numbers. To be subsidiary market housing should not account for more than one third of dwellings on the site.  

Policy WLP8.6 - Affordable Housing in the Countryside

Proposals for the development of affordable housing in the Countryside will be permitted where:

  • It is demonstrated there is an identified local need for affordable housing and this cannot be met through existing housing allocations in the Local Plan or relevant Neighbourhood Plan;
  • The scheme is adjacent to a Larger Village, a Smaller Village or another hamlet or community within the Countryside;
  • The scheme incorporates a range of dwelling sizes, types and tenures appropriate to the identified local need;
  • The location, scale and design standard of a scheme will retain or enhance the character and setting of the settlement.

A limited amount of market housing will be permitted as part of affordable housing developments in the Countryside where it is required to cross-subsidise the affordable housing. Where market housing is to be provided on site this will be subsidiary to the affordable housing element of the proposal and the amount of market housing required will need to be demonstrated through a viability assessment. The amount of market housing on the site should be no more than one third of dwellings on the site.

Where exception sites are brought forward with an element of market housing, both housing tenures should be built to the same design standards which contribute towards the character of the area. Market housing should be reflective of the size of the affordable dwellings proposed on the site.