THE PROBLEM AND THE NEED
We are fortunate to live in Stow-on-the-Wold (“Stow”), an historic town in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with renowned agricultural heritage and a vibrant tourist industry. However, the sustainability of our town is affected by a serious lack of truly affordable housing (“TAH”) which is accessible to local people in Stow on low to moderate incomes.
In addition, whilst Stow has developed as an outstanding and desirable place to live, both for families and for older residents with an increased number of care homes, this has happened without the attendant development of accommodation for key workers.
Any community such as ours is heavily reliant on the ability to attract and retain key workers across a whole range of areas such as carers, teachers, nurses, cleaners and repair and maintenance workers.
In the context of constantly increasing land and accommodation prices, these workers have been priced out of accommodation in Stow and many therefore look to move elsewhere to lower cost areas.
The result is that our community is deprived of the necessary resources needed and, compared with the normal young/middle-aged/older generation demographics, has now become imbalanced.
The estimate of the exact need for TAH depends upon the criteria applied. The most recent Housing Needs Survey for Stow (2015) indicated a need for 27 truly affordable units. This estimate, however, has been updated to approximately 40 housing units to take account of the current demand for TAH based on local housing applications, and demographic considerations.
We have also experienced unintended consequences of this unfulfilled need for TAH due to a proliferation of full market value commercial housing developments in the area, some of which include the provision of Affordable Rented Housing units (at 80% of market value).
However, in high market value areas such as Stow, the attendant affordable housing provision is not affordable to many local residents on low incomes. These developments, in addition to increasing the demand for key workers, often fail to deliver even the limited TAH results initially envisaged.