[D]elivering quality housing to meet the needs of local communities remains the overriding priority for Eden District Council. As the Council’s Draft Eden Local Plan 2014-2032, goes through a final round of consultation before its anticipated adoption as planning policy later this year, the Council continues to work proactively to deliver quality housing to meet local needs.
Eden District Council’s Leader, Kevin Beaty, said: “High house prices and a low number of available properties have long been the bugbear for local communities. Unfortunately, we can’t solve this on our own overnight, but through policies such as the Eden Local Plan we can ensure the right type of market led housing is built in areas where our communities need it most.
“Delivering quality new housing is just part of the answer, we also have to make sure our existing house stock in the District is fit for purpose. We offer a range of grants, loans, help with energy efficiency and can take enforcement action to ensure homes in Eden are of a decent standard for local people to occupy.”
Around 1,000 people in Eden District remain registered on the choice based lettings system for social housing and while house prices continue to outstrip local wages levels this number remains at a constant level.
The District has 1,900 second/holiday homes. House prices in Eden are amongst the highest in Cumbria. The average household income in 2012 was £25,458 and average house price £183,866, outstripping household income levels by around 7.2%, making the local housing market inaccessible for many families.
Many of the existing homes in the district are hard to heat because of their traditional construction, this can leave many rural households who are without a mains gas connection in fuel poverty. To address this issue directly, Eden District Council along with neighbouring authorities used government funding to create the Cumbria Central Heating Fund. In Eden, around 40 homes are benefitting, these properties are being fitted with brand new full central heating systems for the first time.
Eden District Council’s Deputy Leader and Housing and Health Portfolio Holder, Councillor Lesley Grisedale, said: “We work proactively with private and public sector partners to find long-term solutions to the housing issues in our communities. We have been successful in getting the full £938,000 from the government’s Community Housing Fund, so that communities where second homes are an issue can deliver their own schemes.
“The Heart of Cumbria Ltd, the Council’s commercial arm, is bidding for social housing provision (properties available to rent). The company is also establishing what other areas of housing need they can help facilitate in the long-term. As well as securing affordable homes to rent, the Council also works to help people who qualify to purchase properties at a discount of between 20-40% below open market prices. This is managed through the Council’s Homeseekers scheme.
“The district’s superb location continues to attract developers wishing to put forward housing schemes. Market led housing remains one way of securing the affordable housing numbers we need through negotiating Section 106 Agreements for local amenities. We have also made over £1million available through loans to housing associations for the delivery of local social housing schemes.
“Through the Eden Local Plan’s adoption, neighbourhoods planning and forthcoming Council supplementary planning documents we will be better able to regulate the size, shape, quality and location for housing being delivered in the district. Our Housing and Planning Teams continue to deliver the best possible solutions to this complex issues, including by working with their colleagues across the county on policy development and applying for available funding.”
To comment on the Main Modification Consultation to the Eden Local Plan 2014-2032 visit www.eden.gov.uk/elpconsultation before Monday 21 August 2017.