21 February: Affordable homes for Midhurst?
Adrian Moore of Midhurst Community Land Trust (MCLT) addressed The Midhurst Society (and guests) at the South Downs Memorial Hall in Midhurst on Thursday evening, 21st February.
To put the problem of affordable housing into context he started with some stats. Zoopla research indicates that Midhurst is the fifth most expensive area in West Sussex (average price £516,000 compared with the most expensive - Petworth – average price £684,000. Rightmove gave a figure of £366,000 as an average price of a flat in Midhurst; £327,000 for a terrace house. Rentals: £495 pm for a studio flat; £695 pm for 1 bedroom; £850 for 2 bedrooms.
The official definition of 'affordable housing' is 80% of market prices, which means that in Midhurst, as in West Sussex as a whole, 'affordable' is beyond the reach of a lot of people. For young people in particular, the only options are to live with parents or move out of the area. Already, Midhurst has a bigger percentage of over 65's than the south-east as a whole.
MCLT was set up 20 months ago to search for ways of making housing more affordable, and more accessible, to local people. They have the backing of SDNPA, CDC and MTC. Their hope is to buy land that isn't currently earmarked for development - and therefore much cheaper. To date they have looked at 11 potential plots. 5 have been rejected but 6 are still under consideration. Two are particularly promising: one brownfield site, just big enough for two pairs of semi-detached houses; one 'rural exception' site that might accommodate 32 dwellings.
Adrian provided more background information on MCLT, which can be found on the website www.midhurstclt.org
He also asked for more indications of support from within the community. The more people who express an interest in MCLT, the more seriously they will be regarded when it comes to planning and grant applications. Please lend your name to this tremendous initiative by filling in your email details on the website.