Why we build where we build
The need for high-quality, affordable and energy-efficient housing is more pressing than ever, with no end in sight for the UK housing crisis. Connexus has committed to building 250 new homes in Shropshire and Herefordshire every year - but what factors help us decide where to build them?
Responding to local housing needs
The local housing need of communities is the first factor to consider when planning new developments. Connexus work closely with local authorities – in this case, Shropshire Council and Herefordshire Council – who advise whether there are people on the waiting list for housing in a particular area and, if so, what size and type of housing they need.
Like all local authorities, Shropshire Council and Herefordshire Council have prepared a local plan which sets planning policies in the counties. Local planning authorities work to maintain the balance between developing the areas where we live and work, while ensuring the surrounding environment is not negatively affected for everyone. The plan determines the scale and type of development across each region and is always consulted when planning applications are made.
Herefordshire Council are currently running a Place Shaping consultation on the Local Plan 2021 – 2041. This is a chance for local residents to have their say on the housing future of Herefordshire, with the Local Plan determining the growth and development in the county over the next 20 years. This round of consultation runs until Friday 29th July 2022. Herefordshire residents can apply to be involved in the consultation on the Place Shaping website here.
Shropshire Council’s Local Plan runs from 2016 – 2038 and is currently under review, giving planners the opportunity to reflect on the county’s changing housing needs. You can find out more about the Local Plan review on the Shropshire Council website here.
Value for money
Of course, in rural areas, there are obvious constraints on proposed developments: the availability and price of land being the two most challenging hurdles. The average price of farmland has increased by 16% in just the last 12 months, with prices close to the historic highs of 2015. As a not-for-profit organisation with a commitment to providing affordable housing, Connexus is always balancing the needs of rural communities with value for money, and so land prices play a large part in determining the exact location of a new development.
Places to live and thrive
A large consideration is given to what local amenities are in an area of proposed development. Residents will need access to schools, shops and post offices, for example, with these needs differing in each community. Public transport is also important, for Connexus residents who do not have access to a car.
Planning for the future
The final step is to submit a planning application to the local authority. If we’ve correctly considered all of the factors above, the application will be accepted, and the important work can begin: building new homes for rural communities.