The HCA, working in partnership with Hastoe Housing Association, The Ewelme Trust and Aylesbury Vale District Council, has supported the development of Piece Close, Marsh Gibbon which would enable the parish council to address the issue of meeting affordable housing needs to attract young families and keep the area alive, rejuvenated and for the local amenities to remain open. Built to the Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4, the scheme provides 2 one bedroom flats and 2 two bedroom houses for rent. For shared ownership, 2 two bedroom flats and 2 two bedroom houses have been built.
The development of this scheme was influenced by the awareness of the Marsh Gibbon Parish Council who acknowledged the lack of affordable housing for local people through the results of a housing needs survey which helped determine the scheme's composition. The parish council invited Hastoe and the local rural housing enabler to explore the possibility of providing new affordable home based on local needs.
The scheme was designed in response to the housing needs survey in 2006 which identified a housing need. It was hoped that it would reinvigorate the village by encouraging its young people to stay and providing housing for local people who could not afford to buy in the village.
The homes have been constructed to meet the needs of local people, who are defined as:
1. Having been resident in the parish of Marsh Gibbon for at three years or
2. Having been permanently employed in the parish for at least three years
3. Having an immediate family connection or
4. Having been a former local resident.
If there is a vacancy which cannot be filled by anyone meeting the above criteria the same principles can be applied to the adjoining parishes of Twyford, Pundon, Charndon, Ludgershall and Grendon Underwood.
The scheme started on site in January 2011 and completed on 16 October 2011, with all the properties fully occupied as of May 2012.
The project was managed at Hastoe through the Regional Development Manager and the Senior Development Officer who were responsible for negotiating the land acquisition, designing the scheme and steering it through the planning process. The scheme was designed in response to the 2006 housing needs survey which identified a housing need in Marsh Gibbon. The approval process was initially delayed via a village green application being lodged but the application was rejected.
The building contract was let by competitive tender and work began in 2008 but abandoned due to the delay caused by the village green application. Once the application was dismissed, the contract was re-tendered and work began with a new contractor in January 2011. The homes are constructed are general needs homes built to lifetime home standards at a budget of £1.2 million. The houses were built to Code Level 4 and include:
The scheme has impacted the local community in a variety of ways most notably through allowing the target group of eight families to have been able to remain in the village. The local services are also benefiting from the scheme in that the children are attending the local primary school which had been under threat of closure, thereby safeguarding employment. The local shop and public houses have also benefited from the development.
The well-being of the community has benefited as demonstrated in the following brief resident bios:
Laura and Dale have two daughters and were struggling to buy a home as first time buyers and as both have families in the parish they said "It really helps the finances in these times especially as the house is built to a good quality."
Michelle and Dean are a young couple who wanted to stay living locally close to their family and are pleased with the affordability, the design attention to detail and impressed with the energy saving details.
A number of environmental considerations have also been beneficial as the scheme addressed the impact on the local environment and introduced a number of eco-features:
Piece Close demanded strong partnership working to get it off the ground. A local pressure group which opposed the development applied for the whole field to be designated as a village green despite strong evidence indicating that it had been used to graze cattle for well over 200 years. The village green application was dismissed but did expose a number of perceptions and misconceptions that instead of the eight homes to be built the plans were supposed to be for the construction of hundred of houses. Yet by working in partnership with the parish council, local people and council officers the scheme did succeed in gaining support from the parish council and many local people to such an extent that the parish council is delighted with the development and are likely to commission a further housing needs survey with a view to achieving another similar project.
Additionally it is useful to involve as many people as possible very early in the development process to understand the need for housing and the future benefits to the wider community, not just those who will be housed. This approach pays dividends in gaining support for planning applications and achieving buy-in from the local community.
Marsh Gibbon has been awarded: