Frequently Asked Questions
Why are you proposing homes here?
The results of the Parish Housing Needs Survey carried out in 2018 by the Rural Housing Enabler of 'Action With Communities in Rural Kent' indicated there was a need for a development of affordable homes for local people in the Parish.
The results identified a need for an affordable home from 18 households. Chiddingstone Parish Council decided to act on these results and establish a project to provide local needs housing in the village. The Parish Council invited English Rural to partner with them to find a solution to shortage of affordable rural homes. These homes will be for people who are:
Unable to afford to buy in the Parish;
Who cannot find rented accommodation; and
Who have a strong local connection to the village and and the community
These homes can never be sold on the open market and they are reserved in perpetuity for local people.
How did you choose this site?
The Rural Housing Enabler and Officers at Sevenoaks District Council, working with Chiddingstone Parish Council, identified a possible 45 sites in the Parish and an appraisal of each was carried out by Planning Officers at Sevenoaks District Council on their suitability. 21 of the 45 sites were identified as available and of these 6 sites were identified as deliverable. A site consultation event was held in February 2018 where residents voted for a shortlist of three sites, which included Chequers Field.
After careful consideration with the Parish Council, the site at Chequers Barn was deemed appropriate and contact was made with the Landowner who confirmed this site was available.
How will the affordable homes be paid for?
We receive some grant funding from Homes England (a Government agency) to help us build these homes, however we have to raise the bulk of the finance ourselves. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) endeavours to help bridge this funding gap by encouraging the use of cross-subsidy on what would normally be regarded as Rural Exception Sites. Paragraph 77 of the NPPF states that "Local planning authorities should support opportunities to bring forward rural exception sites that will provide affordable housing to meet identified local needs, and consider whether allowing some market housing on these sites would help to facilitate this".
The planned inclusion of three modest open market homes, to be built in partnership with the landowner, has meant that the land for the affordable homes has been made available at nil cost. Furthermore, the ongoing maintenance costs associated with the proposed road and drainage will be shared.
What is a "local connection"?
'Local' means a person who is:
Currently resident in the parish;
Was previously resident in the parish and wants to return;
Is permanently employed in the parish; or
Is connected by close family still living in the parish
What if there is no-one 'in need'? Do you bring in people from further away?
If a future vacancy occurs in one of the homes and no one from Chiddingstone, with the qualifying connection, is in need at that time, then applicants with similar connections to neighbouring Parishes will be considered. The names of the Parishes close to Chiddingstone will be agreed with the Parish Council and will be specified in the planning agreement. However, it is very rare that we have to look for applicants from outside the Parish in which a development has been built.
What safeguards are there?
Before planning permission is granted, we will enter into a legally enforceable planning agreement with the Local Authority to ensure that the affordable homes are allocated to local people and can never be sold on the open market.
Will tenants have a right to buy?
NO. The statutory Right to Buy applies to Council owned properties only. A similar, but less generous scheme, the Right to Acquire is available to Housing Association tenants, but not those in smaller designated rural settlements. Chiddingstone has the designation of a smaller rural settlement and therefore tenants will not be able to buy or acquire their rented homes, thus preserving their affordable status for future generations of local people.
What timescale are you working to?
Following this consultation event and with the support of the Parish Council, we will progress the detailed design of the development and assemble the many surveys and reports required to support a planning application. These will include, amongst many others, the full consideration of current and proposed ecology, biodiversity, drainage and transportation. Following a planning application all documents will be viewable online via Sevenoaks DC planning portal. The reason for this online consultation is to get your feedback and discuss the comments of local people with the Parish Council.
We are aiming to submit a planning application in Autumn 2021, with a view to commencing construction mid 2022.
How can I register for one of your homes?
English Rural is asking people, who have a local connection and need an affordable home, and who are interested in applying for one of the proposed homes, to register their interest by clicking the tab at the top of the page. Alternatively you can visit our website at englishrural.org.uk and read more about what we do. If you prefer, you can also call 020 7820 7930 to request a form or speak to someone about registering.
Interested applicants looking for an affordable rented home will also need to register with Sevenoaks District Council and access to the online application is via kenthomechoice.org.uk or telephone 01732 227000.