Wolston Housing Needs Survey 2017

Published: 07 July 2017

The results of the feedback from the Housing Need Survey questionnaire, delivered in March to every household in Wolston, are now available. The purpose of Housing Need Surveys, normally undertaken by Parish Councils about every five years, is to help inform the Local Authority (LA) on the number and type of dwellings needed by each local community in the short to medium term future, which enables the LA planners to require developers to make provision for any local housing need identified by the survey within any future developments. The most recent survey, undertaken in March 2017 on behalf of Wolston Parish Council by the Neighbourhood Plan Working Group, served a similar purpose as there was a known probable shortage of small dwellings for local people in Wolston, both for social housing and for sale on the open market, and it was also clear that this local needs shortage was unlikely to be met by the proposals in the draft RBC Local Plan.

The 2017 Housing Need Survey report (click the link to read or download the report) is thoroughly researched, well set out and easy to understand. The main points, together with some comments, are:

·                A total of 1,197 forms were distributed, with a return response of 326, or about 27%.
Although this number may appear low it is a large enough to be statistically accurate, and is within the response range normally expected for surveys of this nature. A HNS sample size of 326 would normally be expected to be accurate to about +/- 5%; however it is known that for Housing Need Surveys people who have a current housing need, or have an interest in a future housing need, are far more likely to complete and return the survey form than others who do not foresee a change in their housing circumstances within the next 10 to 15 years. The accuracy of the response is therefore likely to be significantly better than the theoretical +/- 5%;

·                The survey indicated a need, within the next 5 years, for 10 ‘open market’ properties (i.e. properties which would be purchased or rented at the current open market value), and 19 Affordable or Social properties for rent or shared ownership by people with a local connection - these types of dwellings would normally be provided by a Local Authority, Housing Association or Housing Trust;

·                At the time of the survey in March 2017 there were 9 ‘open market’ properties available for sale in Wolston (1 x 1 bed flat, 6 x 3 bed and 2 x 4 bed houses), and none advertised as available for rent, equal to 0.76% of the housing stock in Wolston. At the current time (early July 2017 ) there are no flats, and 4 x 3 bed and 2 x 4 bed houses available for sale, and none advertised as available for rent. (0.51% of housing stock). Of interest is that there are no small (less than 3 bedroom) properties available and as far as is known there are no houses or flats available which would be classified as Affordable or Social housing;

·                Wolston has 108 properties (9.2% of the housing stock) which are classified as ‘Social Housing’, and 10.4% of respondents indicated that they currently lived in properties which are rented from the Local Authority or Housing Association or have shared ownership;

·                19 respondees indicated a need for Affordable local housing within the next 5 years, with preference expressed for 5 x 1 bed, 10 x 2 bed and 4 x 3 bed properties;

·                Of the 326 responses received, 72% (82% including ‘don’t know or ‘no opinion’) expressed support for development of small schemes (5 to 10 units) in Wolston for local people i.e. people who were able to demonstrate a strong local connection to Wolston, and 64% (70% including ‘don’t know or ‘no opinion’) expressed support for an ‘in perpetuity’ clause added to the deeds of Affordable new houses requiring that such properties are only ever available to people with a local connection;

·                The Housing Need Survey has confirmed the previously held perception that there is a lack of small houses / flats and small social housing for local people in Wolston; it also provides a very strong component of the evidence base needed to support development of the Neighbourhood Plan for Wolston.

The future: Identification of options available for potential delivery of the housing stock to meet the need identified in the Housing Need Survey will be undertaken by the Neighbourhood Plan Working Group. Any decision on whether and how to move forward to meet the needs identified in the survey within the next few years is initially a matter for Wolston Parish Council, which will need to examine the deliverability and viability of the options identified. It is anticipated that, after evaluation of these options, any subsequent proposals by the Parish Council for provision of ‘local housing for local people’ will involve a further round of consultation.

A copy of the report is also available at Wolston Library.