Monday, 16 July 2018

Residents want more homes for first-time buyers

AFFORDABLE housing, semi-detached properties and starter homes are needed most in Watlington, say residents.

AFFORDABLE housing, semi-detached properties and starter homes are needed most in Watlington, say residents.

The findings were revealed in a neighbourhood plan survey report, compiled by charity Community First Oxfordshire.

The results will feed into the town’s neighbourhood plan, which is currently being developed, with a referendum due to be held by September 2017 at the earliest.

lt will contribute to decisions about the mix of homes provided on new developments in the town.

Watlington has been allocated 79 new homes to be built by 2027 under South Oxfordshire District Council’s core strategy but this figure is likely to rise. 

Sixty-five per cent of respondents — 398 out of 614 — favoured affordable properties, while 51 per cent wanted semi-detached homes and 47 per cent asked for starter homes as the top three property types needed in Watlington.

The top three types of supported housing that respondents thought the town required was independent accommodation with care support — 57 per cent or 194 out of 340 respondents — housing association sheltered housing (47 per cent), and private sheltered housing (37 per cent).

The survey was commissioned by the neighbourhood plan steering group. It gave all households in the village the opportunity to express an opinion on housing development and to register their own housing need, should they have one.

Parish council chairman Ian Hill, vice-chairman of the neighbourhood plan steering group, said the results would now be analysed.

He explained: “I think the things we really need to get out of it are the type of houses people want and the need for affordable housing.

“It looks to me like a good solid piece of work but it does need a fair amount of thinking. The appendix had a wealth of comments and really I’ve done no more than glance at them. We do need to go through them carefully.

“I don’t think there was anything that was particularly surprising about it. The whole point of doing the survey is to provide evidence to support what we put into the neighbourhood plan.

“This gives us pretty solid evidence that there’s a need for particular sorts of houses, in particular small starter homes.”

A set of criteria is currently being drawn up by the steering group to produce a shortlist of possible housing sites.

Cllr Hill said: “There are some sites that are very clear, they are there and available for development. But we can’t just consider only these sites because developers are keen on them. We have got to consider all the potential sites and make a sensible judgement on them.”

The forum and steering group are also looking at measures to control traffic. At the end of June there will be a series of events presenting the work so far on the plan and a number of options for residents on traffic management and the site selection criteria.

Cllr Hill said that this would be to see the different options available. These may include an alternative route to take traffic out of the town, leaving the traffic flow as it is to incorporate the chosen housing sites, and using the funds generated from new houses to put in place traffic measures.

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