November Update

This has been a very busy period on several fronts.

A General Meeting was held on Sunday 13th October at the Centre.

After receiving an update on the affordable housing development on Mill Lane, the members present agreed that the board could:

  • proceed with signing the option agreement on the Mill Lane site;
  • accept the grant money from Lancaster City Council and abide by the conditions;
  • sign the legal partnership agreement with South Lakes Housing.

All those present then discussed allocation criteria for future tenants of the homes. This work is ongoing but the board was grateful for the clear steer, before further discussions with Lancaster City Council and South Lakes Housing. We all agreed that the rented and shared ownership homes should be affordable to local people on low incomes.

We have now agreed the land purchase option agreement with the landowner, and are expecting to ‘exchange’ on this soon. This protects our position as the preferential buyer of the land.

We are very pleased that we are now in receipt of the final report on the local Housing Needs Survey. The report concluded that:

  • a need exists for 22 additional affordable homes every year in Halton Parish, over the next 5 years;
  • There is a need for 50 additional affordable homes every year over 5 years, in the whole area that was surveyed;
  • This level of need exists for both existing and newly-forming households;
  • All sizes and types of dwellings are needed and around 42% need to be suited to older people;
  • There is a particular need for 2-bed homes. There is currently a surplus of 3- and 4- bedroom houses in current and planned commercial developments and a shortfall in the number of 1- and 2-bedroom homes.

The report will be passed to all the Parish Councils whose areas were in the survey.

All of this crucial information confirms the need for more affordable homes in Halton and will be used now to decide the final mix and layout of homes for the site on Mill Lane. Our partners South Lakes Housing have now (with our agreeement) appointed architects for the development: John Gilbert Architects. They were chosen because of their experience in building affordable passivhaus- standard homes i.e. affordable to rent/buy and to live in, due to superior insulation and low fuel bills.

South Lakes Housing have now formed a design team consisting of two senior members from South Lakes Housing,  architects from John Gilbert, and a project manager/QS from Elliots. Two members of the CLT (one of whom is an architect) are also part of the team and they all now meeting regularly.

We have now received our first tranche of the grant funding for our ‘pre-development’ costs from Lancaster City Council. This grant covers our legal fees on land purchase and lease development, community led housing consultancy, and all the surveys, architectural and engineering inputs needed to develop the designs for our application for detailed planning permission.

There has also been progress on Forge Lane adoption. Lancashire County Council have agreed to adopt the road in the near future, pending some works being completed by the current owner. Lune Valley CLT members recently removed vegetation from the pin curb of the pavement on Forge Lane, as part of the process. Once the road is adopted, a 20 mile/hour speed limit will be imposed; the new signs have just been erected.

So, we are making slow but steady progress on the scheme. Neighbours can expect to see more activity on the site soon, as the surveys (land, trees, soil) begin.