At long last we have details of the development behind the retirement homes along Bunbury Lane. This site shares a bit of history with the Hill Close development. The original application was made by Wulvern Housing Association just after the afore mentioned site. The consensus at the time was broadly in favour of the site and opposed to the Hill Close development. However, Hill Close application was, after a number of permutations, approved before the Wulvern. The original Wulvern application was then refused on the grounds of co-location (see Policy H2a in the Neighbourhood Plan) with the Hill Close site. A battle then ensued over this application with much discussion of the meaning of ‘co-location’;.It went to appeal and the Inspector came down on the side of the developers and defined ‘co-location’ as being next door to another site and agreed that a small paddock was sufficient distance to meet the requirements of the policy. A serious blow to the ‘co-location’ principle. That was in 2016 and since then the Wulvern has become the Guinness Partnership and they have now sold the site to Duchy Homes. It they that have put in the application (19/3767N)
What has emerged? Here is the proposed layout:
What we have then is a site dedicated to the construction of large 5 bedroomed properties squeezed into about two-thirds of the site. Four ‘affordable ‘; dwellings are planned in the least favoured part of the site – where else?- directly behind the retirement homes. Here are the details of the affordable housing planned.
|Number||Plots||Type of homes||Tenure|
|2||4 & 5||1 bedroomed 2 person Bungalows||Affordable rent|
|1||3||2 bedroomed 4 person house||Affordable rent|
|1||1||3 bedroomed 5 person houses||Shared Ownership|
|1||2||2 bedroomed 4 person house||Shared Ownership|
Next is the ‘market orientated‘ housing plans :
|Number||Plots||Type of homes||Tenure|
|9||7 – 15||5 bedroomed||Freehold|
The space at the end of plot is described as a ‘retained ecological area..‘ and ‘..This is an important feature for the local residents and has been retained in order to strengthen links to the existing PROW while retaining the rural character.’
That is a welcome feature but also exists as a potential area of expansion for a further 6 to 7 additional houses at some point in the future. Will it have a legally binding covenant protecting it from development rather like, we are told, the paddock to the south of the site?
How has the application changed from the one presented in 2016?
It is perhaps worth looking back at the application that was given consent and looking at the allocation of housing types then envisioned.
The affordable houses were 5 in total although with the loss of the retirement bungalow on Bunbury Lane this was a net of 4 dwellings. No change. These smaller properties are sorely needed in Bunbury, a situation reflected in the most up-to-date housing needs survey completed in 2013. People want to stay in the village but down size and thereby free up family accommodation for other villagers and new comers. The real shift in provision comes in the ‘market sector’ of the application. The original application only provided for four 5 bedroomed houses not the 9 we now have. That is a massive shift in the target market the developers are aiming at
Why we should object to the proposal in the new Duchy Home application.
A perpetual problem with developers is their unwillingness to to provide the sort of homes that are needed by the community. This problem brought about the requirement of developers to provide a specific number of affordable houses if the size of the development exceeds a certain level. The original act in 1990 was seen by the current government as a barrier to building new homes. Developers were, apparently reluctant to build because of the burden of the affordable housing requirement specified by the act and negotiated with the local authority. The new act in 2013 gave developers the ability to question the ‘viability’ of any affordable housing requirement. The result has been a significant reduction in the number of affordable houses being built.(Homes England – Housing Statistics).
The Duchy Development off Bunbury lane is pretty typical of the allocation of housing types we have seen in the village. While the building of 5 new ‘affordable’ homes appears generous we should remember that it is only a net addition of 4 homes as one of the retirement homes on Bunbury lane is being demolished to improve access to the site. That is 26% of the site allocation of 15 homes. The bare minimum.
The remaining 10 houses also reflect the market driven approach of development these days. One 4 bedroomed house and 9 five bedroomed homes. Given the evidence of the The Grange development and the prospectus provided by Duchy Homes this are set to sell at premium prices. Apart from the possibility of purchases by retired couples, the majority of houses will attract working couples and families commuting in and out of the village.
The village doesn’t need more of these large houses. The current housing needs survey(2013) did not show anything more than the addition of 1 four bedroomed per year. What it did show was the need for many single and double bedroomed houses and that scarce commodity the 3 bedroomed semi-detached house. The development next to the medical Centre offers some relief for people wishing to stay in the village, both downsizers and first-time buyers with 7 affordable homes available. A further 20 (including both Duchy sites) affordable homes are completed or due to be built from existing planning consent. That is out of a total over 100 houses built in the village since 2010.