A housing needs survey conducted by Mendip District Council has suggested a limited need for additional affordable homes in Nunney.
The housing needs survey was carried out earlier this year by a team at Mendip District Council in partnership with and on behalf of Nunney Parish Council.
The survey aimed to establish how many new homes are needed in Nunney over the next 5 years and of what type. The last housing needs survey for Nunney was conducted in 2009.
Since then, attempts to build up to 100 new homes in at Green Pits Lane have led to protests in the village.
As well as determining whether there is a housing need, the Parish Council was keen to hear the views of parishioners about housing, individual needs and the parish in general.
Specific to Nunney seems to be that people with a local connection living elsewhere would like to move back to the village, but can’t find suitable – and affordable – housing in the village.
More than once people responding to the housing needs survey said that the lack of suitable housing for reduced mobility or the elderly were contributing factors for some people moving out of the village.
The housing needs survey included a series of questions about current living situation, income and local connection to help identify housing needs in the village.
Nunney Parish Council extensively promoted the housing needs survey. Some 400 hard copy paper surveys with Parish Council cover letter and prepaid envelope were sent to every household address in the village.
There was some criticism of the way the survey was distributed, in blank envelopes addressed to ‘the occupant’. It was feared that some may have ended up in recycling bins.
The survey was also available for people to complete securely online. The Parish Council called in help from Visit Nunney to help promote the housing needs survey on social media and this website.
The housing needs survey reports is somewhat misleading when it comes to the results. Although the questions were primarily about whether any extra housing is needed, the summary is firmly biased towards a focus on affordable housing.
For example, one question on the survey read: “If a need is identified, please indicate below, how much you would support future development in the Parish specifically to meet the housing needs of local parishioners.”
Yet this is reported as: “The overwhelming majority of participants stated they did not require affordable
housing either now or in the next 5 years”. No mention of any housing needs other than ‘affordable’.
Mendip District Council received 97 replies, which is all the more remarkable because Mendip was inviting responses to its Local Plan at the same time.
Of these 97 respondents, 85 said that they don’t need affordable housing now or in the next 5 years.
Of the remaining 12, 2 respondents said they needed affordable housing but didn’t want to be contacted about it – and were therefore considered invalid.
Out of 10 people who said they needed affordable housing:
- 4 people require affordable rent from a housing association
- 2 people stated they would like to complete self or custom build
- 1 person selected older persons accommodation
- 3 people left their housing requirement unanswered, however looking at the details provided 2 of these rent privately and their income suggests affordable rent might be suitable and the last of these is a homeowner
All of these households currently live in Nunney and have incomes suitable to qualify for affordable housing.
Of all the people who responded to the survey, the largest population group was 0-16 year olds (26.6%). This was followed closely by 17-21 year olds (23.5%) and then 41-54 year olds (12.3%).
The large majority of participants owned their own home with no mortgage (48.5%) and the most common house size for participants was a 3-bedroom home (49.5%).
Out of the 97 respondents, 10 said that they needed affordable housing. There was mix of housing requirements including affordable rent, self or custom build and older persons accommodation. There was a clear preference for 2 and 3-bedroom houses.
Nunney already has a staggering 78 housing units that are classified as ‘affordable’ or ‘social’, including Dallimore Mead.
Visit Nunney is regularly approached by Aster, the housing association that manages these unit on behalf of Mendip District Council, to help find potential occupants with a local connection.
When asked more specifically what kind of development parishioners might like to see, there was a majority who selected new homes in small scale development followed by new homes, brownfield development.
The overwhelming majority of participants said they did not require affordable housing either now or in the next 5 years.
More diverse village
The final question in the survey served as a ‘catch all’, allowing participants to express views on topics which might not have been included, for example transport, employment or community.
Comments left in this section highlighted that the primary school and village community, the need for younger families and new parishioners, volume and speed of traffic and parking, public transport, the village shop and the perceived north/south divide of the village were of particular concern to people in Nunney.
In total there were 45 responses that commented on these various issues in the parish. Thirteen participants said that they would like to see new people and more young families joining the village.
Eight responses commented on the importance of the primary school and these often included comments on the need for young families to increase the school numbers and to maintain rural community life.
In addition to this, speeding, parking and the volume of traffic was raised in 10 individual responses – indicating a concern of further development and associated traffic as well as suggesting existing infrastructure would not be suitable.
The village shop was mentioned in 4 separate responses. But any potential new housing at Green Pits Lane – the most likely option – would be closer to the SPAR shop at Nunney Catch than the one in the Market Place.
Finally 4 responses commented on a perceived north/south divide in the village and all comments state that any large scale development or ‘estate’ would only add to this divide.
The full report is available on the Mendip District Council website.