Response from Mr John Studholme, Sandylands Residents Association
1. Mr John Studholme, Sandylands Residents Association : 8 Jul 2008 16:26:00
Please write your comment or explain your reasons for supporting or opposing this part of the Report. You may also wish to refer to the tests of soundess in the glossary of the Preferred Options document before making your comments.
Local Development Framework Consultation
At a meeting of Sandylands Residents Association held on 22nd May, the Preferred Options Report on the Local Development Framework was discussed and it was agreed that a response from the Residents Association should be submitted as part of the public consultation process.
In principle the Residents Association supports the proposals to provide affordable housing for local people and the attendant requirement for stimulating the economy of the area. However, a number of concerns remain and comments are offered as follows.
Proposed Development of North East Kendal Site
This land opposite Queen Katherine School and the Retail Park (Map reference 6) is designated for Mixed/Employment/Housing. There is some concern that sport and leisure facilities are not included in the categorisation. There is a serious lack, in our area, of Track and Field Athletics facilities. The level fields, size and proximity to one of Kendal’s secondary schools make the site ideal for this purpose. If the entire site is developed for housing and employment, the possibility of use as an Athletics centre will be lost. We would strongly urge that a comprehensive athletics facility be given priority in the development of this land. To this end, as the dimensions of a 400 metre 8 lane track are fixed and the site is limited in size, we think it essential that the development is planned around the athletics facilities and not visa versa.
Affordable Housing for Letting
It is noted that new, affordable housing is to be provided for rent. There is some concern that this stock could be diminished in the future if tenants are given an option to buy. It is suggested that steps are taken to ensure that any property designated for rent should be contractually excluded from the possibility of tenant purchase.
Affordable Housing – Income Criteria
The report explains some of the criteria applied to affordable housing – i.e. an affordable mortgage equals 3.5 times household income and affordable rent is 25% of household income. However, the report does not mention what is considered to constitute household income for the purposes of applying these factors to determine values of affordable properties. It is our understanding that the figure used by South Lakeland District Council is around £21000. If this is the case there is a serious disparity when incomes of the lower paid are taken into account. The current minimum wage for workers aged 22 years and older is £5.52 per hour. For a household with a single, full-time earner on minimum wage, this computes to a gross income of £11482 per year based on a 40 hour week. Even if other benefits are taken into account there is a serious shortfall between actual incomes and the Council’s starting point in it’s understanding of affordability. Affordable housing, based on these criteria, is unaffordable for the most financially vulnerable households. A revision of the criteria is therefore essential to give integrity to the Council’s definition of affordable housing values.
Second Home Exclusion
The proposal to exclude new developments from being purchased as second homes is to be welcomed. However, the application of the policy needs to be explained, particularly regarding anti-avoidance measures. Are there sufficient powers to ensure that properties are not purchased through secondary ownership devices such as personal pension schemes and inheritance tax trusts?
Effects on Existing Infrastructure
Additional homes on the fringes of existing population centres inevitably mean additional requirements for local services. What consideration, if any, has been given to providing more places at local schools to cope with extra demands on education services
Another consideration is the pressure on the transport infrastructure. The East Kendal development would mean traffic accessing the main network through Sandylands estate, a residential area already experiencing significant traffic congestion at peak times. What measures are proposed to cope with the greater traffic problems brought by a new housing development? Is there sufficient collaboration between SLDC and the Highways Department to deal with necessary improvements to the transport infrastructure