SEFaversham

Application Number: 23/505533/EIHYB
Land at South East Faversham Between A2 Canterbury/London Road and the
M2, Faversham, ME13 9LJ

The Faversham Community Land Trust (FCLT) is an organisation primarily concerned with the acquisition and development of land or buildings within Faversham for the provision of affordable housing for local people.

Our primary focus is to secure social rented homes and discount market housing (First Homes) which are the priority forms of tenure identified in the Faversham Housing Needs Survey. 

 Housing Need

A Housing Needs Survey (HNS), specifically addressing the Faversham catchment, was commissioned by FCLT to identify the focus of activity for the Trust.

Evidence from the HNA, published by Arc 4 in August 2020 states:-

4.50 Respondents considered that the priorities for future house building are small family homes (2 or 3bedrooms), small homes for singles and couples and small homes for the disabled and to enable older people to downsize.

4.54 We conclude that Faversham households in affordable need require a significant additional supply of affordable rented housing. This would need to be mostly 1 and 2- bedroom dwellings.

5.5 The HNS has revealed gaps in supply for certain types of market housing. The evidence suggests that the dynamic between supply and demand plus demographic change has led to an undersupply of 1and 2-bedroom flats and bungalows for older people and younger households that have delayed having children.

5.7 Overall, the HNS provides a significant body of evidence for the Faversham Town Council and the Community Land Trust to resist housebuilding that is not needed by local people and prioritise that which is needed.

We developed an awareness  that Planning applications, submitted by the volume housebuilders, across the duration of the 2017 Local Plan, generally provided an unbalanced housing mix.  As a rule these were disproportionally weighted in favour of larger four bedroom ‘executive homes’, designed to capitalise on the deeper pockets offered by inward migration from the metropolis. Furthermore, the limited supply of one and two bedroom homes had been predominantly allocated for affordable housing leaving a paltry supply for open market housing. The evidence base in the HNS underpinned a planning  campaign which  objected to these applications on the grounds that the developers housing mix did not address local needs.  To support the campaign FCLT compiled  a database  on new build housing completed  under the 2017 Local Plan to 2021 on major projects, broken down by bedroom size.  This identified the housing mix that had been delivered and evidenced that local needs were not being met.  Our campaign sought to secure a  balanced mix and this  had  some success.

SE Faversham Proposed Housing Mix

We attended some  of the public consultation events organised by the Duchy. These provided an opportunity to draw the Duchy’s attention to  the HNS outputs and our campaign. We stressed the evidenced need  to see a housing mix plotted at SE Faversham that addressed Faversham’s housing need.

We are delighted that the Duchy listened; their application proposes a mix significantly weighted in favour of smaller homes. To demonstrate this, we have compared the Duchy Phase One mix to the 2017 plan database output on the table on page 3.  

Over 45% of the Duchy’s first phase housing has been plotted as one and two bed homes and apartments. This is close to a doubling of the percentage built by the volume housebuilders across more than 1,000 homes through the study period

SE Faversham - Affordable Housing Tenure

In addition to housing mix, our research also looked at the provision of affordable housing across the study period and revealed that policy targets were not being met.  The HNS identified in Table 4.2 that only 6 new social rented homes had been delivered across the whole of Swale between 2017 to 2019.  Our major projects study struggled to identify whether any had been built in Faversham since.  This dire situation is  a consequence of a combination of successful viability reviews  triggered by the housebuilders and progressive cuts by Government to the grant regime that is necessary to support the delivery of Social rented tenure.  

Government figures released in February this year revealed a catastrophic failure in increasing social tenure.  There was a net  loss of 12,000 social rent homes in England last year.  Right to buy sales and demolitions continue to exceed the number of homes built.  The figures confirm  that 22,023 social homes were sold or demolished last year and only 9,561 built.  In the past ten years there has been a total loss of 177,487 social homes.  Over 1.25 million households in England are currently stuck on council waiting lists.

In the light of these appallingly gloomy  statistics for the homeless  the SE Faversham affordable offer, to deliver 40% of the affordable mix as social rented tenure, can only be welcomed.

We  understand that Swale’s  affordable housing policy guidance is in a state of flux. Pressure is  unsurprisingly building to  increase social rented stock.    Viability issues are causing funding issues for  RSL’s in relation  to the provision of First Homes. The National Housing Federation have expressed  concern that the obligation for developers to prioritise First Homes in the affordable tenure mix  is particularly having a negative impact on the viability and delivery of  affordable homes to rent. We presume that the pending Local Plan review will address these issues.

In the light of this, the Duchy’s affordable offer is framed to deliver  policy compliant affordable housing numbers at SE Faversham, based on the 2017 Local Plan Policy set at  35% of the scheme.  They have set out their stall  to  specifically offer  40% of the affordable tenure mix as social rent.  A  generic statement that the balance of the mix will be interim tenure does not specify any  split, probably  as a consequence of the policy review.  No doubt this will be resolved during the Local Plan review as the application proceeds through the system.

The level of the Duchy’s social rented offer is quite unprecedented on major schemes and this will demand significant levels of subsidy from the landowner.

FCLT and the Duchy

Mindful to the Duchy’s proposals for development in Faversham and coinciding with a press release from the Prince of Wales in support of the homeless we wrote to  the Duchy seeking a meeting.  Directors of the Community Land Trust subsequently met Ben Murphy last October when we discussed the prospect of FCLT participating as an active player in the delivery of the affordable homes on two counts.

  1. A partnership or development agreement, structured  to secure  a  proportion of the social rented housing stock to be built at SE Faversham, to be owned in perpetuity by the Trust for the benefit of Faversham folk.
  • We are also lobbying to secure priority bidding rights in the S106 Planning Agreement for Faversham residents, their kin and key workers for First Homes.

FCLT would welcome an opportunity to comment further on  the ongoing S106 negotiations as the scheme evolves through the planning system during the Local Plan review.

Conclusion.

We have studied the planning application in detail. It is clear that the Duchy are investing in a scheme that will exceed prevailing sustainability and biodiversity standards by a considerable margin. They  demonstrate  an exemplary zero carbon strategy and  offer a pioneering solution to sewage and water security issues. These attributes, combined with a strong affordable housing offer, is why the Faversham Community Land Trust have no hesitation in  supporting  the SE Faversham planning application.

Yours sincerely

Stephen Atkins - Land & Planning Director

CC - Rebecca Walker – Housing Officer

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Faversham  Community Land Trust is a Community Benefit Society Registration Number 8109
Registered Office: 12 Market Place, Faversham, Kent ME13 7AE | Email: info:favershamcommunitylandtrust.org
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