Affordable Home Ownership in Porlock, Exmoor

The new housing scheme in Porlock, Exmoor, being built for Hastoe Housing Association includes three shared ownership houses.

These are aimed at households who have some savings and a reasonable income, but are still unable to buy a starter home. The spacious two and three bedroomed homes are built to high environmental standards, achieving level 4 on the Code for Sustainable Homes, meaning that they will have low energy bills.

“These homes are aimed at local people needing to remain living in the community, or at others who have had to move away but want to return,” says Colin Savage, Rural Housing Enabler, “ and there are restrictions on their occupancy to make sure that is who gets to live in them.”

Potential purchasers will need to show that they have:-
-  lived within Exmoor National Park for ten years
-  need to live close to someone because of age or ill health
-  have a strong reason to live in the locality because of work

 “Affordable home ownership houses come forward very rarely”, says Colin, “and there are only a few people in a position to afford them. So, although priority will be given to people with a strong connection to Porlock, anyone meeting the National Park local connection criteria, and keen to live in Porlock, should come forward.”

The shared ownership homes should be available for occupation in June this year, at the same time as the twelve rented houses on the same development, currently known as Chadwyck Close.

“The allocation of the rented houses is well underway” says Diane Blackman, Project Assistant. “We supported Hastoe in this process, to make sure that local people needing houses knew that these were available and then by checking that applicants met the local connection criteria. Almost all the homes are now under offer to local people. There is one four bedroomed house still available, so families needing a house of this size and meeting the local connection criteria, should get in touch.”

There was some concern about rent levels as this is the first scheme in West Somerset under the Governments “Affordable Rents” policy. This obliges housing associations receiving grant funding from the Homes and Communities Agency, to charge a rent equivalent to 80% of the local open market rent for an equivalent property. These work out higher than rents charged at what are known as “social” or “target” rents on older housing association properties.

“Everyone involved has been concerned about the effect these rents would have.” said Colin Savage. “Potential tenants have been advised by Hastoe and by West Somerset Council on rent levels, and on the availability of Housing Benefit, so that they are able to make informed decisions about the housing available to them.”
The Rural Housing Project and its housing association partners have provided many affordable homes for local people across the Exmoor national Park, and beyond in rural parts of North Devon and west Somerset.

“The Project has been running for over ten years now,” said Colin Savage, “much has been done, and there are many more homes in the pipeline. If we are to keep rural communities alive and vibrant, we have to keep providing homes particularly for younger people and families.”

Robert Aspray, Regional Head of Development, for Hastoe West region, said:
“We are very pleased to have been able to provide these much needed new homes in Porlock for local people. We hope that these affordable homes will encourage young families to step onto the housing ladder and enable the local area to continue to flourish.”

The Rural Housing Project can advise on whether people are likely to qualify. Please call 01398 322245/ 322249. Applicants should also contact the Hastoe Sales Team on 0800 783 3097 to discuss how they would go about purchasing one.


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