Village Housing Options and Settlement Boundaries
2. Contextual and Policy Overview
2.1 This section of the document sets out the context as to why WDC is focusing on a limited quantity of
housing mainly across identified growth villages, as part of its wider forward growth strategy. There is also consideration of the key policy issues which underpin this approach.
The Changing Nature of Rural Areas
2.2 Recent research1 on the future of rural development identifies a number of clear trends in rural areas.
Changing rural economies with most jobs now in the service sector – since 1997, the decline in the agricultural sector has continued to such an extent that the sector contributes a mere 0.55% of national output and only employs 4.5% of the rural workforce. The two main economic processes underlying this change are the growth in the ‘new rural economy’ – manufacturing and especially service employment and the continued use of advanced machinery in the agricultural sector.
The changing social composition of rural societies driven principally by selective migration, in particular counter-urbanisation and outmigration from rural areas. The trend started in the 1970’s facilitated by improvements to transport and the growth of private car use. This lead to significant social change in communities often directly related to their proximity to urban areas and their associated services. The movement of young people (aged 16-29) away from rural areas has occurred alongside counter-urbanism, which tends to involve both older people and families with young children moving to rural areas.
An increase in display of urban characteristics in rural areas - the meaning of rurality itself is being redefined and contested between new rural dwellers and others who have lived there longer. Each of these social groups may have different requirements and aspirations, and indeed conflicting ideas of countryside.
2.3 Within Warwick District some of these trends are quite evident. According to the 2011 Census, within Warwick’s Rural Districts (defined in Appendix 1), the largest occupational split is Professionals at 24%, just under a percentage point less than the District average. At 16.6% Managers and Senior Officials make up the second largest occupational grouping in the District’s Rural Districts, which compares to 12.8% average for the District as a whole and 10.9% for England. People employed in some of the traditionally lower skills areas are also under-represented in the rural District compared to the wider District, West Midlands and England averages.
2.4 If we look at the statistics further using 2011 Census data, 13 out of 17 of Warwick’s rural areas have a lower percentage of 0-15 year olds compared to the district average and 14 out of 17 of the Rural Districts have a higher percentage of 60-74 year olds compared to the district average (See Appendix 2 for more information on the age structure for each rural area).
2.5 From 2001 to 2011, according to Census data, only the statistical areas (Lower Level Super Output Areas (LSOA)) covering Bishop’s Tachbrook North, Hampton Magna, Barford and Stoneleigh have witnessed residential growth above the district average and these can be explained by specific developments.2 The trend in the vast majority of rural areas is for low or no growth and declining populations in some instances. This information is detailed in Table 1 below.
Table1: Resident Population 2001 and 2011
|Villages||Statistical Area||Usual Resident Population (2001)||Usual Resident Population (2011)||Absolute Change||% Change|
|Barford, Sherbourne and Wasperton||Barford
|Bishop’s Tachbrook (part), Warwick Gates||Bishop’s Tachbrook North
|Bishop’s Tachbrook (part)||Bishop’s Tachbrook South
|Bubbenhall, Wappenbury, Weston under Wetherley, Eathorpe||Bubbenhall
|Burton Green||Burton Green
|Cubbington (part)||Cubbington East
|Cubbington (part), Old Milverton, Blackdown||Cubbington (New)
|Cubbington (part)||Cubbington West
|Hampton Magna (part), Hatton Park, Hatton Green||Hampton Magna
|Baddersley Clinton, Chessetts Wood and Kingswood (part)||Lapworth North
|Kingswood (part), Lapworth, Rowington, Rowington Green, Turners Green, Lowsonford||Lapworth South
|Leek Wootton, Hill Wootton, Beausale||Leek Wootton
|Hampton Magna (part), Hampton on the Hill, Norton Lindsey, Budbrooke||Norton Lindsey
|Radford Semele (part), Offchurch, Hunningham||Offchurch
|Radford Semele||Radford Semele
|Stoneleigh, Ashow, Baginton||Stoneleigh
|Wroxall, Little Shrewley, Hatton Station, Shrewley Common||Wroxall
2.6 It was noted above that the age structure of the rural areas is changing, with a loss of younger people and increase in older residents. 13 out of the 17 rural areas have witnessed a decrease in the percentage of 0-15 year olds compared with a district trend of just over 1% increase (the West Midlands trend is for a 1.3% increase during the two census periods). In line with District trends 16 out of 17 rural areas have witnessed a reduction in the percentage of 30-44 year olds. The district trend is -1.61%.
2.7 The trend for a reduction in 30-44 year olds detailed above is amplified quite dramatically in some rural areas: - 5.8% in Lapworth North, -11.6% in Norton Lindsey, -6.3% in Hampton Magna and -8.6% in Offchurch being four notable examples. The District trend towards an increase in the percentage of 60-74 year olds (1.38% change from 2001 to 2011) is further amplified in the vast majority of rural areas. Lapworth North 6.5%, Norton Lindsey 13.7% and Offchurch 10.8% are notable examples (see Appendix 2 for more information).
2.8 Many rural areas and villages within Warwick District also have a higher than average number of owner occupied properties and detached houses (See Appendix 3 for a full statistical profile of the rural areas). Information contained within the Warwick District Council Strategic Housing Market Assessment Final Report, March 2012 (SHMA) suggests that there are clear differences between different types of tenure groups. The owner occupied (no mortgage) sector contains a large proportion of pensioner households whilst lone parent households are concentrated in the social and rented sectors. It is also estimated in the SHMA that the average price of a home in a rural area is around 23% above the average for urban areas. However, this is partly influenced by the different profiles of the housing stock in these areas (including more detached houses).
2.9 The implications of these types of changes and trends in the rural districts are complex and multi-layered, but may include:
changing and reducing requirements for education facilities, particularly primary schools - unless children arrive by bus or car from a wide catchment area;
the loss of community services and facilities for younger people;
the provision of additional outreach support services to an ageing rural population;
the need to consider new forms and types of housing for people looking to down size to smaller properties later in life, and
a significant affordability gap in some rural areas for housing.
2.10 The challenge in relation to village housing is two-fold:
It requires firstly an approach to addressing current housing trends and requirements. This means looking at opportunities to provide more movement in local housing markets to enable older people to downsize or move to different types of housing. It also requires the provision of housing that is adaptable to changing circumstances and physical requirements.
If we are looking to help ‘re-balance’ the population profile of our rural areas and villages, this will require the supply of new sites for housing, which will not only help address indigenous local housing requirements (including affordable homes) but also support the wider housing growth demands for the district. Part of this re-balancing may include diversifying the housing stock range to include the provision of smaller family and 2 bedroom homes appealing to different demographics.
The National Planning Policy Framework
2.11 The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) makes several references
to villages and sustainable
development. Under paragraph 28:
‘Planning policies should support economic growth in rural areas in order to create jobs and prosperity by taking a positive approach to sustainable new development. To promote a strong rural economy, local and neighbourhood plans should:
Support the retention and development of local services and community facilities in villages, such as local shops, meeting places, sports venues, cultural buildings, public houses and places of worship.’
Furthermore to promote sustainable development in rural areas, housing should be located ‘where it will enhance or maintain the vitality of rural communities’, this can include supporting development in one village to support services in a nearby village (paragraph 55).
2.12 The NPPF states under paragraph 86 that if it is necessary to prevent development in a village primarily because of the important contribution which the open character of the village makes to the openness of the Green Belt, the village should be included in the Green Belt. If however, the character of the village needs to be protected for other reasons, other means should be used, such as conservation area or normal development management policies, and the village should be excluded from the Green Belt. A specific discussion about the Green Belt and associated issues is covered in Chapter 3 of this report.
Revised Development Strategy
2.13 WDC’s Revised Development Strategy sets out an interim level
of growth of 12,300 homes for the District between 2011 and 2029. It is also acknowledged that this figure may be revised pending the findings of ongoing work on a Joint Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) with neighbouring authorities. Following deductions for housing completions, committed developments, small urban sites, an allowance for windfall development and the consolidation of existing employment areas, the balance of housing to be allocated is 6,622.
2.14 Under RDS4 of the Revised Development Strategy, the broad
location of development to meet this housing allocation is:
Concentrated within existing urban areas – 380 dwellings (5.7%).
Sites on the edge of Warwick, Leamington and Whitnash – 4550 dwellings (68.6%).
Sites on the edge of Kenilworth – 700 dwellings (10.6%).
Village development – 1000 dwellings (15.1%).
A Draft Settlement Hierarchy Report was completed in May 2013, as part of the evidence base for the Revised Development Strategy, which proposed a focus upon 10 of the District’s most sustainable village locations for the allocation of limited housing growth. The settlement hierarchy work was based upon a detailed review of services and facilities within each settlement and the accessibility of a wider range of services and employment from the villages. The settlements detailed in the table below, were identified for a range of housing growth.
Table 2: Villages and Number of Dwellings
|Primary Service Villages||Number of Dwellings||Plan Phase|
|Secondary Service Villages||Number of Dwellings||Plan Phase|
2.15 The more sustainable village locations were provided with an initial assessment of a range of housing, based upon:
Where possible feedback was gathered from the Parish Councils and Neighbourhood Plan teams about potential housing growth levels;
A varied percentage increase in household levels, proportional to the existing size of the settlement, and;
An outline assessment of key factors which may impact upon the ability of settlements to accommodate growth, including primary school capacity and sustainability of services/facilities, role and character of the settlements; strategic or headline assessment of the suitability of sites, environmental impact and the overall vision for the settlement.
2.16 The Revised Development Strategy also recognised that supporting only the larger, more sustainable village locations across the semi-rural and rural parts of the district, risks ignoring the housing needs of other areas and the importance of their often dispersed local services and facilities. Indeed it was argued that a policy which ignores these smaller villages may put at further risk local services and facilities – making the areas more unsustainable over the course of the plan period. However, for development to be supported in these smaller locations there are clear requirements for:
Parish Council / Neighbourhood Plan support;
An up-to-date housing needs survey;
A supportive social housing landlord to ensure take-up and deliverability of affordable housing;
A development site(s) which is located within a defined village boundary, and;
A housing project to assist in delivering clear improvements to local services and facilities.
2.17 In the Settlement Hierarchy Report and Revised Development Strategy it was mentioned that further detailed work was required on Green Belt assessment, habitat and landscape impact and other site development issues. This report on the villages pulls together the main findings from this detailed assessment work.
1 Mark Shucksmith/CarnegieUK (2012) Future Directions in Rural Development?
Publication: Creative Commons 2 Bishop’s Tachbrook North - Warwick Gates; Hampton Magna - Hatton Park; Barford - Bremridge Close and Stoneleigh - University of Warwick