Kessingland villagers urged to fill in housing survey
Community leaders are to embark on a drive to try and ensure new affordable housing is only available to those with a connection in the village.
Kessingland Parish Council chairman Liam Martin said: “The situation we have at the moment is that when new building goes up, a certain percentage is set aside for affordable housing.
“If it goes to a housing group or the local council, then Kessingland residents don’t get a look in.”
The policy of many social landlords is to allow tenants and waiting lists to bid for properties which are available.
Although in some cases preference is given to people applying for homes in their areas, it is often possible for people to successfully bid for homes some distance away.
Housing was the number one issue raised by residents in Kessingland’s recent village plan consultation, where hundreds of questionnaires were sent out to people asking them what would make “my ideal village”.
Feedback early on in the consultation showed that “there is a demand for affordable housing across all adult age groups and those with an established local connection”.
As such the parish council approached Waveney District Council about keeping new affordable homes in Kessingland exclusively for those in the village.
But the district council said that was not its policy - unless Kessingland is designated as a “rural exception site”, where normal planning rules don’t apply and the land is kept for affordable homes, as well as those with a strong connection to the area.
Kessingland Parish Council has therefore put its neighbourhood plan on hold.
Instead it has commissioned the charity Community Action Suffolk to carry out a housing needs survey to assess whether a rural exception site would be a viable option.
A spokesman for Waveney District Council said: “The council’s policy is that new affordable housing can be allocated to anyone with priority on the waiting list, unless the housing is located within a rural exception site where a local connection is required to comply with planning policy.
“However Kessingland Parish Council is developing a neighbourhood plan for the village and this will enable the parish council to determine their own planning policies specifically for Kessingland.
“If required, the preference to make new affordable housing available only to residents with a local connection could be incorporated into the neighbourhood plan.”
See the full story in Friday’s Journal.