Affordable Homes

Bembridge has 2062 homes, 3632 electors and population over 4000. The precept is £160,000 for a budget of £225,000 which is £76.23 per band D. There are 33 Parish & Town Councils on the Island and our precept was 9th last year.

Bembridge Parish Council is working in partnership with the Isle of Wight Council which is the Unitary Authority and Vectis Housing Association who are 1 of 3 housing associations on the Isle of Wight to deliver more affordable homes within Bembridge. Vectis Housing is the smallest of the 3 housing association with less than 400 properties and does not rely upon any Homes and Communities Agency funding. They pride themselves on being local and for the Island and self-sustaining. The other housing associations are large scale and have to tick the central government boxes.

We created a Housing Needs Survey which was published in May 2013. The results are that 12 affordable homes are required per annum and the lifespan of this plan is 5 years so total deficit of 60. The Parish Council will ensure that a new Housing Needs Survey is conducted every 5 years. We also understand the tenure of each property required and this is assisting the builders to gain planning permission by ticking the boxes of the types of properties required. Ranging from 3 bed family homes to 1 bed accessible bungalows.

The Parish Council appointed a working group in February 2012 to develop a Neighbourhood Plan that went to referendum on 24th July 2014 and secured a 92% yes vote with a 39% turnout. Grant funding of £4,000 was secured from Isle of Wight Council and £6,794 from Locality. Key policies include provision of small scale sustainable developments and support for affordable homes to meet the local needs. We were very fortunate to have a dedicated working group who stuck it out for 2 and a half years to produce the Neighbourhood Plan.

The Isle of Wight went through a schools reorganisation in 2012 changing from a 3 tier to a 2 tier system. Bembridge had a primary school and middle school. The middle school closed and the schools swapped sites so the primary school is now on the old middle school site. This meant that the old primary school site was surplus to requirements.

The Isle of Wight Council submitted a planning application for the site for 8 x 4 bed luxury detached properties. This did not meet the criteria of our housing needs survey. Following lobbying by the ward Councillor and discussions with Vectis Housing Association the Isle of Wight Councils Property disposals committee agreed for Vectis Housing to become a special purchaser of the site.

They acquired the land for £250,000. The Parish Council lobbied the Local Planning Authority to allocate £216,663 of sec 106 funding, from another local development in the village to this project. This ensured the viable delivery of 13 affordable homes (4 discounted market sale and 9 social rents) that meet a local need.

The local connection is made up of criteria from the Isle of Wight Councils local lettings policy and Bembridge Neighbourhood Plan to ensure the homes deliver the local needs identified in the housing needs survey as follows:-

BEMBRIDGE

  1. Living in the Parish and needing to downsize
  2. Living in the parish and needing a bigger property
  3. Living in the parish and needing a similar size property
  4. Living in the parish and subject to a planned move on medical or welfare grounds
  5. Have worked in the Parish for 5 years or more or have accepted an unconditional offer of employment within the Parish (may exclude some seasonal employment)

BRADING & ST HELENS (Neighbouring Parishes)

  1. Living in the Parish and needing to downsize
  2. Living in the parish and needing a bigger property
  3. Living in the parish and needing a similar size property
  4. Living in the parish and subject to a planned move on medical or welfare grounds
  5. Have worked in the Parish for 5 years or more or have accepted an unconditional offer of employment within the Parish (may exclude some seasonal employment)

ISLANDWIDE

  1. Living on the Isle of Wight and registered on Island Homefinder

Vectis Housing Association and Bembridge Parish Council held a drop in session on 5th April 2016 for local residents that were interested in the scheme or had any questions. Similarly any neighbours to the site that had any concerns had a chance to speak with the team.

Another drop in session was held on 11th October 2016. The local estate agents Hose Rhodes and Dickson HRD were in attendance with their marketing packs for the 4 properties that will be sold at discounted market value. Vectis Housing community engagement team attended who entertain the children whilst their parents are deep in conversations about the details. But the community engagement teams are actually gaining useful information and insight from the children’s perspective to understand what it is they want to see as part of the developments. This might be a play area, more trees, flowers, plants and so on. We also worked with the Local primary school by running a competition to name the new close, the result being Sycamore Drive; what sensible children they are.

Vectis Housing prides themselves on using Island contractors and trades people. DN Associates were the appointed builders who have an office 2 doors up from the Parish Council so we couldn’t get more local if we tried. Demolition took place in July 2016 and the keys were handed to new tenants and purchasers on 30th June 2017. A grand opening took place on 14th July where all partners involved, local dignitaries and school children were invited to see the development and cut the ribbon to officially open ‘Sycamore Drive’.

Since the introduction of the Neighbourhood Plan 21 affordable homes have been approved through the planning process. 13 of those are through this partnership approach utilising the old school site. This was unheard of before the Neighbourhood Plan with Bembridge having a reputation of being affluent and this has made it even harder for the smaller areas of deprivation. 21 is not bad going for 2 years work!

Lessons have been learnt as it hasn’t all been ‘plane sailing’. The 4 properties for sale had restrictive covenants due to the 20% market value reduction in perpetuity and local connection criteria. This has a knock on effect with the lenders who required a minimum of 15% deposit (20% in some cases) and reduced the amount of lenders considerably. 30 applicants met the local connection criteria but only 3 could proceed with the finances.

The next scheme of 9 houses, 4 being affordable, is currently being delivered around the corner at Forelands Field Road but the lesson has been learnt and the tenure changed to shared ownership and more affordable rents.

We are ticking more boxes than just housing.

  • New homes are the foundation for life
  • This improves a families Health & Wellbeing
  • Improves prospects of Employment with the stability of home life.
  • Improves the local Economy by employing local trades and businesses.
  • Sustains the vibrancy of Community life, shops, schools, local amenities etc and prevents Bembridge from becoming a 2nd homes paradise or ghost town as has happened in other villages on the Island.

Bembridge Parish Council is committed to providing affordable homes to ensure it retains young families within the village.