Policy HSG3: Rural Exception Sites and First Home Rural Exception Sites

Open22 Jan, 2024, 10:00am - 4 Mar, 2024, 11:59pm

Policy HSG3:  Rural Exception Sites and First Homes Exception Sites

Residential development designed to meet the identified housing needs of local people unable to meet their own needs in the housing market will be permitted outside Settlement Policy Boundaries on Rural Exception Sites and First Homes Exception Sites. The homes must meet the Plan’s climate change policies to support the council’s climate emergency and ecological emergency declarations.

Rural exception sites will be permitted where:

  1. The site is adjacent or well related to an existing settlement, and capable of being well integrated into the existing community;
  2. The scale and tenure of development will be based on proven local need;
  3. The development will be small scale and in proportion with and respect the character, form and appearance of the immediate vicinity and surrounding area; and  
  4. The affordable housing will be retained in perpetuity.

As long as they are supported by the government, First Homes exception sites will be permitted where:

  1. The affordable homes would be First Homes. A small proportion of other affordable tenures may be provided if it can be demonstrated that significant local need exists;
  2. The site is adjacent to an existing settlement and capable of being well integrated into the existing community;
  3. The development will respect the character, form and appearance of the immediate vicinity and surrounding area;
  4. The development would be proportionate to the size of the existing settlement. The determination of ‘proportionate’ will have regard to the form of the settlement, the established pattern of development and the sensitivity of the landscape and any heritage assets.
  5. There is a proven need for First Homes, that is not already being met or being planned to be met elsewhere in the borough; and
  6. The site is not within the North Wessex Downs National Landscape.

Subject to local housing priority, local circumstances, viability and market conditions, a proportion of market housing will be permitted on Rural Exception Sites and First Homes Exception Sites. In such cases, the affordable element of the development should always comprise the greater proportion of units in comparison to the market units proposed. The council will only permit the minimum number of market homes required to deliver the scheme. Where market homes are provided, their size/type should meet a clearly identified local need.

The developer will be required to submit an open book viability assessment for proposals which include a proportion of market housing on viability grounds. This will need to demonstrate that the proposed number of market dwellings is essential for the successful delivery of the development and is based on reasonable land values as an exception site. In such cases the council will commission an independent review of the viability study, for which the developer will bear the cost.

Affordable Homes for discounted market sale will also be permitted on Single Plot Exception Sites as set out in Policy HSG4.

10.28 The borough has a significant rural area with approximately 40% of the population living outside Basingstoke town. The specific housing needs of the rural areas are of key concern for the council and this policy permits rural exception sites of affordable housing in areas where new development would not normally be permitted. This approach is supported in national policy which highlights how important it is to meet the current and future needs of rural communities.
10.29 A number of rural exception sites have been successfully delivered in the borough. However the delivery of such schemes can be slow and the council is keen to facilitate a higher provision of affordable homes in rural areas in the future with a view to maintaining sustainable communities and meeting their specific needs. The council would expect rural exception sites to be supported with evidence of local need (generally arising from within the same parish) and developed in engagement with the local community and with support from parish councils. Community-led housing and rural exception sites may also be identified within neighbourhood plans.
10.30 In order to minimise the impact of development in the countryside, the proposed site should be selected as the preferred and most deliverable option following an evidenced scoping exercise and sequential assessment of potential sites capable of meeting the locally identified need. This should include considering all opportunities within the built-up area as a priority.
10.31 In order to ensure that rural exception sites meet the needs of local communities, in the first instance and for any future vacancies, rural exception housing must always be offered to households in the parish within which it is located. Strictly controlled cascades will allow the scope to widen catchment areas over time to prevent prolonged voids.
10.32 The policy also permits first home exception sites on suitable sites where they are proportionate in size to the existing settlement. Proportionate in size should be determined with regard to the form of the settlement, the established pattern of development and the sensitivity of its environment. However, sites will be unlikely to be considered proportionate in size if they would increase the number of homes in a settlement by more than 5%, or if they would have an area exceeding 1.0ha adjacent to settlements in Categories 1,2 or 3 (as defined by Policy SPS5) or 0.5ha adjacent to any other settlement, whichever is smaller.
10.33 It is expected that rural exception sites and first home exception sites will deliver 100% affordable housing. However, the provision of small-scale market development in conjunction with affordable units will help enable more development sites to come forward to meet local demand. The provision of a small number of market units will also help maintain communities where development would not otherwise occur. Where market homes are required, these should be of a type that would meet an evidenced need within the local community (such as homes for older people or plots for self-builders).
Implementation and Monitoring

The policy will be implemented through:

  • Decisions on planning applications and planning obligations.
  • Working in partnership with Parish Councils, the Housing Department and Registered Providers to ensure the delivery of homes to meet needs.

The policy will be monitored against:

  • The number and tenure of homes granted planning permission and delivered on Rural Exception Sites and First Home Exception Sites.