7. Housing

7.1 Consultation Results

Many people are calling for affordable housing to be available in the village. This would enable local young people to stay living in the area, and in turn, raise their own families. People feel this would keep the village vibrant and alive. However many people also want to see development carefully limited, preserving open green space. People are not pleased that large, expensive houses have been approved and built when it is smaller, cheaper ones that are needed. Some people want the parish council to have a stronger hand in approving or rejecting planning applications and others want there to be no development at all. Some people suggested that existing buildings be converted and renovated for affordable housing to prevent new building on new sites. No one supports extensive development.

7.2 Action Group Report

The group carried out a thorough analysis of the kind of housing available in Silverdale and of housing costs. It showed that  there are currently 742 dwellings in the Parish of Silverdale alone, with about 24% in the middle Council Tax band (D), 25 % in the lower bands (A-C, of which only 11% are in bands A and B) and 50% being in the higher Council Tax bands (E-H).

In  Silverdale Ward  (Silverdale and the Yealands) the average price of housing in 2001 was in the region of £157,400 compared with £68,500 for Lancaster and £119,400 for England and Wales. It is clear that current prices are in excess of these figures.

Discussions with the local estate agents revealed that the only properties that were available in the village during the past 12 months for less than £100,000 were apartments. None of the four agents questioned could envisage anything in the future being less than £100,000 unless it was very small and in a poor state of repair. The average ‘low cost’ semi-detached is currently in the region of £140,000 and it would require a minimum income of around £40,000 p.a. to obtain a mortgage for such a property.

In terms of housing for rent, there are 14 City Council owned dwellings in Silverdale village comprising 3 three-bedroom houses; 6 one-bedroom bungalows; 3 one-bedroom ground floor flats; and 2 one-bedroom first floor flats. The Lune Valley Housing Association owns 3 rented houses and if the Know Hill scheme goes ahead, there will be a further 6 homes, four for rent and two for shared ownership. Information is not available on the number of private landlords in the village but, according to two of the estate agents, one could expect to pay £500+ per month to rent privately. There are some existing privately rented properties with lower rents and these are a valuable asset in the village. Numbers are not known.

The group concluded that it would be only in exceptional circumstances that any young people in the village could afford to place their foot on the bottom rung of the property ladder. The level of income needed to purchase a property is well above average income levels. As far as rented properties are concerned, there are currently only 6 family homes provided by the City Council and Housing Associations combined, with 6 more possibly being built soon. The numbers of affordable private rented homes are unlikely to be sustained as tenants change or owners sell their property.

In the late 1980s young people in the village were arguing the case for affordable housing. In 1991 The Parish Council began to work with English Villages Housing Association and Lune Valley Housing to see if some homes could be built specifically for village families. This meant conducting a Housing Needs Survey, in association with the City Council. This survey showed that there were around twenty families in the village who needed to find homes, and who would not be able to buy a home in the village. The City Council applied to the Housing Corporation, and was granted approval in principle to provide 10 new homes, working with housing associations.

Finding an available site at an affordable price proved all but impossible. The City Council provided some land at Lindeth Close to build three homes. Then land at Know Hill became available under the ‘exceptions’ planning system and was acquired by Two Castles Housing Association to provide six homes. This was a controversial development, strongly opposed by some and strongly supported by others. It is understood that building may begin this year, providing that details of the access road are finally settled. With both housing association schemes there are clear and legally enforceable rules that mean these houses can only be let or sold to village families or, failing that, to those from nearby villages

When the six homes are built at Know Hill, the Parish Council’s 1991 aim to provide ten homes for village families will have been largely met. It will have taken twelve years to provide nine homes.

The group concluded that there is a need for affordable housing for ‘local’ families, but also a clear village desire to ensure that these are built in a style that is in keeping with the rest of the village, are provided in small, tightly controlled, quality developments, and remain affordable in perpetuity.

It should also be noted that the Countryside Action Group made some recommendations on housing matters and they are included in actions under this chapter.

7.3 Action

7.3.1 Short Term

  1. No action should be taken until the final outcome of the Know Hill development is clear, and any homes that are going to be built are occupied. By then the Parish Council should have a good idea of the extent of demand and unmet need for affordable housing.
  2. New housing (and other building) in the parish must be kept to an absolute minimum, and confined to “brownfield sites”, that is land which has already been used for commercial or domestic purposes. Any attempt to build on “greenfield” sites, i.e. take up yet more countryside, should normally be resisted. (Countryside Group recommendation)
  3. The robust vernacular tradition should be followed in the design of any new houses and the practice of putting up more and more suburban bungalows be discouraged. (Countryside Group recommendation)

7.3.2 Medium Term

  1. Following occupation of the Know Hill development, the Parish Council to consider whether they should initiate another housing needs survey, and if so, to begin another search for a small site or sites on which to build affordable homes, in accordance with planning policies.