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Rural housing

Many factors make the district a very desirable place to live in:

  • The south coast.
  • The South Downs National Park on our doorstep.
  • Our proximity to London.

This demand has pushed house prices up.

In rural areas the availability of housing is affected by:

  • The reduction of affordable homes as a result of the Right to Buy
  • Strict planning controls which restrict opportunities for new housing
  • A reduction in the number of market housing through an increase in holiday lets and second homes.

The South Downs National Park Authority is the planning for a large part of the district. Chichester District Council remain the local housing authority for the district. The provision of high-quality affordable housing remains a high priority for us.

What we offer

We offer affordable housing advise and support to rural parish councils and communities through:

  • Neighbourhood Plans,
  • Exception Sites, and
  • Community Land Trusts (CLT's).

We also work with communities to :

  • establish their housing need,
  • identify sites, and
  • guide them through the development process.

What is affordable housing

Affordable housing includes both rented homes and low-cost home ownership housing. This could be a shared ownership. These are for eligible local households who would find it difficult to rent or buy in the open market.

The benefits of affordable housing

Affordable housing schemes make a significant contribution to their parish. Providing affordable homes for local people helps those on modest incomes to remain or return to the village they grew up in. It is important for a balanced community to have a mix of household types. These include families, couples and older people.

It's this mix that helps to maintain local facilities such as shops or post office, church or village school. In some cases, providing additional affordable housing can mean the difference between a shop staying open, or having to close.

Assessing the need

We can provide a summary of those on the housing register who have a local connection to the parish. We also hold information on affordable housing stock and turnover rates on a parish basis.

In some cases, we may need to supplement this information with a housing needs survey. This is a questionnaire sent to every household in the parish. It gives local people a chance to say what services they would like to see. It also allows them to suggest suitable sites for development.

This evidence helps us identify the size and type of scheme needed.

Considering the different ways of providing affordable housing

Most rural housing schemes are delivered through 'exception sites'. These are built on land outside of the settlement area and are not normally available for market housing. Any homes built on a site like this must have high:

  • design qualities,
  • meet tough environmental standards, and
  • be affordable for local households in perpetuity.

The Localism Act (2011) gave powers to local communities and parish and town councils to produce Neighbourhood Plans. Local affordable housing needs can be met through the development of a neighbourhood plan.

This is achieved through identifying suitable sites. Then allocating a percentage of the development for affordable housing for local people. More information is available at Neighbourhood Planning.

Consulting the local community regularly

In many parishes, no significant development will have taken place for some time. It's important that the community understands the process and quality of housing proposed. We're happy to attend public meetings to explain the process and answer questions. We believe that the key to success is in developing a working partnership with our rural communities.

Regular consultation is important to address concerns from neighbours and residents. Affordable housing schemes are for the benefit of the community. It is essential that local residents are kept informed throughout the process.

Identifying potential sites for development

Finding a site is the most important stage of the whole project. It's important to keep an open mind and consider all sites that may be suitable. The site must:

  • be appropriate in planning terms,
  • have the support of the parish council and
  • have a willing landowner who will sell for exception site values.

Exception sites have a unique land value that is between agricultural and hope value. The price agreed for the land is important to ensure that the housing being developed is affordable.

We can work with you to undertake a site appraisal and help to liaise with the planning authority to assess the suitability of the sites.

Working with a Housing Association or setting up a Community Land Trust

Not all housing associations understand the uniqueness of rural housing. There are a small number who specialise in rural housing, and we can work with you to identify the best provider for you.

Community Land Trusts (CLT's) (opens new window) can also play a key role in providing affordable homes for their community.

CLT's are non-profit, community-based organisations run by volunteers. These organisations develop housing, workspaces, community facilities or other assets that meet the needs of the community. Any individual can express an interest in setting up a CLT and invite other people to work with them on a project.

Allocating the housing

For households to be considered for affordable rented homes, they must be listed on the council's housing register. If a CLT is delivering the units the homes will be allocated in-line with their agreed allocations policy.

Interested households are required to 'bid' on properties. Bids are made via the online system 'Sussex Homemove' when they are advertised. Properties will be allocated to the households that have the highest need, and a local connection to the parish (if a local connection policy applies).

On some schemes, we may want to give extra priority to households that are looking to downsize from their current home. This may free up another family-sized affordable home, which can be prioritised for another local household.

Please see Chichester District Council's allocation scheme for further information:  Housing Allocation Scheme 2023 (Word doc) [273KB]

Local connection

A local connection is defined as:

  1. Currently residing in the parish
  2. Currently working in the parish
  3. Having a next of kin* living within the parish
  4. Being an ex-resident that has had to move away because of a lack of affordable housing

* For the purposes of a local connection, the definition of next of kin is taken from s.186 of the Housing Act (1985). This includes mother, father, brother, sister or adult children.