For today’s Rural Housing Week 2022 content, we’re giving an insight into housing needs surveys and how they help us ensure the right homes are built in our rural communities.
High house prices and rental costs within Cambridgeshire, especially in the rural areas, make it difficult for local people to afford suitable housing. How we live is also changing, with an ageing population and many people needing space for homeworking now, for example. So future housebuilding needs to adapt to meet these new requirements.
Cambridgeshire ACRE uses Housing Needs Surveys to assess the specific housing needs of residents and people with strong connections to an area, such as those working locally. A survey looks at both affordable and open market housing, along with the types of homes that residents need.
A survey takes the form of a questionnaire sent to every household in a parish and also made available for completion online. The data from the questionnaire is analysed and a report detailing the results is written that identifies the number and type of affordable housing that is required with a detailed analysis of circumstances and any additional related issues or concerns. This information can help a parish council, community group, local authority or other organisation plan for future development, with the aim of ensuring that the right number, size and tenure of homes are built according to the defined local need.
As the results of a Housing Need Survey are used to inform decisions on future housing, it is very important that the survey is impartial, robust and reliable. In order to guarantee this, the organisation who commissions and pays for a survey, usually a registered social landlord, is not involved in the survey process. They do not have any role in data collection or analysis and neither do they have any input to the report. This role is performed solely by Cambridgeshire ACRE as an independent third party that has no vested interest in the results.
In summary, housing need surveys can:
• Identify additional local housing need that is not currently being recognised by the local authority housing register (some households may not know how to register or be aware that they have to register to be eligible to bid for an affordable property).
• Identify hidden housing need; these are people who are unable to afford to rent or buy a property in their area and are living within another household.
• Identify households/individuals who have had to move out of the parish due to difficulties in finding a suitable home locally.
• Give local people the opportunity to explain why they are in housing need.
• Help the parish council understand why there is a local housing need in the parish.
• Help find out whether residents would support a small affordable housing scheme.
• Raise awareness of this issue in the local community.
• Be used alongside the housing register as robust evidence by the local planning authority when determining planning applications.
If your parish council would like to better understand the housing needs of local residents then we would welcome the chance to discuss this further with you. Please contact our Rural and Community-Led Housing Enabler, Jenna Brame, to discuss (01353 865022 or email@example.com).
Cambridgeshire ACRE also accepts private commissions for housing needs surveys from other parties, such as planning consultants, provided there is no conflict of interest with our registered social landlord/local authority clients. Please contact us for more information about this service.