Low Cost Housing

News relating to the Wyboston Rural Exemption Scheme [latest first]

Extract from e-mail from Tracey Barrett, BBC @ 2nd February 2018

I’m writing to let you know that the Council and Stonewater have been able to agree a way forward that will allow the affordable rented properties at The Lane to be allocated in line with Stonewater’s allocation criteria.  This allows properties to be allocated with one ‘spare’ bedroom.   We hope this will assist with some of the issues that have caused concern and will be welcomed. 

It does mean that those who have already applied to bpha will need to complete another application to be considered by Stonewater.  Stonewater use the Homehunt online system which is available here: 

https://www.homehunt.co.uk/apply 

This takes you directly to the application section of the web site.  Please would you let everyone know that this system does cover Stonewater, even though they aren’t on the list of housing associations on the front page.  If the process is followed through the applicant can chose Stonewater as their housing provider.  Jeevan Kalyan of Stonewater has offered to assist anyone who encounters any problems applying.  His direct dial phone number is 01202 319119.  It’s worth noting that Jeevan used to work at bpha and recently moved to Stonewater, just in case any of the applicants have spoken with

Tracey Barrett

Team Leader, Housing Policy, Development and Viability

Bedford Borough Council

01234 718572 (ext 47572)

Tracey.Barrett@bedford.gov.uk  

 

Extract from e-mail from Rebecca Fleckney @ 6th December 2017

Please find below my summary of the items raised and my response if one is required: 

1, I have extracted the local connection criteria from the agreed S106 document which is attached, applicants with family or other connections that do not fully meet this criteria are still encouraged to apply so the allocation/sale can be assessed on a case by case basis by Bedford Borough Council [document can be found in WCCPC Files, Low Cost Housing]

2, Stonewater receive nominations for the allocation of the rented units from BPHA/Bedford Borough Council and these will be in line with their Allocations policy, applications can be made via https://myhomeoptions.org.uk I believe there was a direct question asking if the properties can be under occupied due to this being a rural exception site and it is my understanding this is not possible under this policy. 

3, As some members of the community did not feel comfortable completing online applications/struggle with broadband service, Stonewater will investigate the possibility of arranging an open event at the village hall or nearby Wyboston Lakes (if this has a better internet connection) , perhaps on a Saturday morning or 4.30-7.30 on a weekday whereby a SW Homes executive could be available to answer questions/help complete forms on the shared ownership properties. 

4, Once it is safe to do so residents and parish councillors will of course be welcome and invited to view the quality of build and under floor heating/Air Source Heat Pump technology should they wish. 

5, I will enquire from the planning case officer in due course as to any comments/the outcome of the non-material amendment relating to plot 11. 

6, Stonewater welcomed feedback relating to working hours, contractors parking arrangements etc; as none were raised we believe all is in order but please do keep in touch if there are any concerns in future.

 

The Lane, Wyboston Marketing Strategy (e-mail from Stonewater @ 25th October 2017)

As a rural development with a local connection S106 obligation Stonewater will market the three shared ownership houses to those with a parish specific connection for Wyboston Chawston and Colesdon for the first 3 months of marketing and then if necessary, extend to the Bedford Borough for a further 3 month period.

It is anticipated marketing will commence in November 2017 and Stonewater will notify both Bedford Borough Council and Wyboston Parish Council when it is launched. Interested parties may register their interest in advance of commencement of formal marketing by contacting Stonewater’s Sales team on 01454 204035.

During the course of the marketing period priority will automatically be given to any applicant demonstrating a local parish connection even when the initial 3 month marketing period to the Parish has expired. Evidence of how the applicant fulfils the local connection criteria contained in the S106 agreement will be sought by Stonewater and verified in advance of an offer being made.

The initial shares available will be between 25 and 75% in line with the Homes & Communities Agency guidance and capped at 80% as specified in the S106 agreement. The usual minimum share is 40% although in exceptional circumstances Stonewater will consider an initial lower tranche sale.

In line with HCA funding requirements sales prices are established by procurement of an open market valuation carried out by a member of the RICS.

All applicants are assessed using a standard affordability calculator to ensure the purchase is sustainable for the applicant and in line with Stonewater’s policy.

In order to promote the development and the homes available, Stonewater will use a combination of digital and traditional marketing techniques consisting of:

  • Website & other social media advertising i.e. Stonewater Homes Website, Facebook and via the local Help to Buy Agent (Help to Buy East and South East).
  • Site signage consisting of the HCA standard stack board placed in a prominent position on site containing details of how interested parties might apply
  • Review of responses to original survey in 2015 and contacting interested parties where possible. Consideration to be given to data protection issues so this might need to be done via BRCC.
  • Press releases to local media (newspapers & radio).
  • Adverts in the Parish magazine/ website and other community magazines.
  • Attend Parish Council meetings in November and December and if suitable arrange a separate community meeting to promote Stonewater Homes, Shared Ownership & the development.
  • The Parish Council will be asked for any further suggestions for marketing opportunities – such as a parish event that might fall within the marketing period.
  • Posters in Wyboston shops and other key community venues i.e. schools, nurseries, doctors’ surgeries, council offices, sports & leisure venues.
  • Employ a local estate agent to advertise properties and assist with generating interest in the homes.

    It is anticipated that all of the items above will happen simultaneously.

If no suitable buyer is found within the first 3 months of marketing then the above advertising will be updated to reflect the extended eligibility criteria for those with a connection to Bedford Borough. As per the original adverts they will still include details of the local connection requirement as those with a local connection to the Parish will continue to have priority.

During the marketing period written monthly updates will be provided by Stonewater for the Parish Council meetings and fortnightly updates to Bedford Borough Council on marketing activity, number of sales and interest received. These will not contain applicant’s personal information but will summarise the nature of the local connection of each applicant.

Stonewater have built in an extended marketing period to find suitable buyers for these homes and in the event that Stonewater are unable to find suitable buyers after 6 months of marketing, then as detailed in the S106 the homes may be converted to affordable rent (80% of market rent or Local Housing Allowance, whichever is the lower. In this case the same local connection criteria will apply as the other 5 affordable rent properties.

To secure mortgages on homes where staircasing is restricted to 80% requires customers to have access to a larger deposit e.g. 15% in relation to the normal 5% where 100% ownership is permissible. This percentage applies to the quantum of the equity being purchased, not the full open market value. There are also a reduced number of mortgage lenders who will offer mortgages on this type of purchase

Stonewater will work with dedicated Independent Financial Advisors to assess applicants’ affordability and source appropriate mortgages.

 

Draft proposals for local connection criteria at The Lanes, Wyboston can be found under 'Low Cost Housing' in 'WCCP Files'

Criteria and eligibility for rural exemption scheme are as follows:

  • has immediately before such allocation been ordinarily residents within the parish for at least 2 years; or 
  • has been ordinarily resident within the Parish for at least 3 of the 5 years immediately preceding such allocation; or 
  • has close family members (e.g. mother, father, brother, sister or adult son or daughter) living in that Parish and having done so for the 5 years immediately preceding such allocation; or
  • has been employed in the Parish (working for at least 16 hours per week) and has been so for the whole of the 2 years immediately preceding such allocation

Further information on how to get onto the register can be downloaded by clicking on the link below:

http://www.bedford.gov.uk/housing/housing_advice__options/applying_for_social_housing.aspx