2016-2017 Vale of Glamorgan Rural Housing Enabler Update
Since the RHE project began in the Vale in 2010 it has successfully contributed to the delivery of several rural affordable housing schemes for local people.
I have been working closely with our registered Social landlords to deliver new affordable housing across the rural Vale. We have gained 113 social rented and 39 low cost home ownership properties from private developments through section 106 gains during 2016 (to date). These homes are provided for local people on the Homes4U or Aspire2own waiting lists and are managed by our registered social landlords.
New Homes Completions
During 2016 two of our partnering housing associations have opened the doors to four new 100% affordable housing developments within the rural areas of the Vale of Glamorgan. All four schemes were developed on brownfield sites.
In February 2016 Newydd Housing Association provided a total of 23 new affordable homes for local people at its site in Gileston Road, St Athan. The rural development which was constructed on the old train station offered 6 one bedroom apartments, 2 two bedroom adapted bungalows, 10 two bedroom houses and 5 three bedroom homes for rent.
In May 2016 Newydd Housing Association completed their second rural affordable housing development of the year. Cwrt Col Huw in Llantwit Major has provided 18 brand new affordable homes, consisting of 13 two bedroom and 5 one bedroom apartments for local people to rent.
Similarly Hafod Housing Association welcomed tenants to its latest development of new affordable homes in Dochdwy Road, Llandough and Mariners Court, Rhoose. The Dochdwy Road scheme which was completed in May 2016 offered local people 18 new one and two bedroom apartments for rent, and the Mariners Court development offered local people 2 two bedroom houses, 2 one bedroom apartments and 4 two bedroom apartments for rent.
Looking forward to 2017 I have recently facilitated a site visit for Llantwit Town Council to view the affordable houses being delivered in partnership with Wales & West Housing Association at Redwood Close, Boverton. Members were impressed with the high standards of the properties, especially where they were able to see the adaptations made to two bungalows which have been specifically designed for households with a medical need. The Town Council now look forward to receiving feedback in terms of allocations and the agreed local lettings when the new tenants take up residency in February 2017.
When affordable housing developments are approved by the Vale of Glamorgan Council, we aim to ensure that at least one property is fully adapted to the needs of someone on our Accessible Homes register.
Potential Rural Developments
During November 2016 I visited St Georges & St Brides Super Ely community council with Wales & West Housing Association to give a presentation on the role of the RHE and how affordable housing can make a difference to local people and sustaining rural communities. The meeting was a success and in January 2017 we returned to discuss a potential affordable housing site in The Downs, which falls within the boundary of St Georges & St Brides Super Ely. We now intend to carry out some in depth research into the housing need within the area to ensure that any development in the area meets the local need. This will hopefully be followed by extensive consultations with local residents and submission of a planning application from Wales & West Housing Association with support from the local community.
Similarly I am in the process of facilitating a meeting between Hafod Housing Association and Pendoylan Community Council. Hafod are hoping to build a small development of affordable homes for local people in need in Hensol.
I have had several meetings about land opportunities which could provide small but strategically important sites for affordable homes for people in the rural areas of the Vale. However in this type of job you have to keep reminding yourself that only a small percentage of proposed schemes will actually get built.
We would be interested to hear from anyone who would like us to do something similar in their community.
Local Sales and Lettings Policies
It has been a busy six months for me, and my colleagues before me. Together with our partnering housing associations we have worked closely with a number of our Town and Community Councils during 2016/2017. Jointly we have developed and written bespoke Local Lettings and Sales Policies for Colwinston, St Brides Major, Penllyn, Llantwit Major, Dinas Powys, Llandough, Wenvoe, St Athan, Wick and with ward members of Rhoose. The aim of these policies is to ensure that the new affordable homes being delivered in these areas are allocated to applicants with a genuine local connection. Additionally I have had the pleasure of reporting back the outcome of some of these policies, addressing Wenvoe Community Council, St Brides Major Community Council and Colwinston Community Council and providing them with success stories where we have been able to address local need.
In Other News
I have had the opportunity to look at alternative solutions to affordable housing. The Wales Housing Co-operative offered me the opportunity to view examples of affordable housing provided under a cooperative model in Loftus Gardens, Newport and Home Farm Village, Ely. We got to speak with residents who were appreciative of the co-operative ethos of working together to find solutions to their housing need, for example where they have been forced into the private rented sector or had been unable to obtain a mortgage.
I also got to return to Cardiff Metropolitan University with David James, Rural Housing Enabler for Monmouth. David had been asked to present some examples of schemes he had pursued and spoke about the difficulties of developing in rural areas, and I got to share my experiences with housing students too.