Neighbourhood Plan
Housing Focus Group

These pages carry reports of the progress of the individual Focus Groups in the development of a Neighbourhood Plan.

We will keep you informed through these pages of developments and information as the project develops.

Please visit these pages regularly to see how the Piddle Valley Community can have its say in shaping the future of the Valley and how it will affect you.

This group is led by Malcolm Johnston Tel: 01300 34869


News Letter No 13 - 01/03/15

We have received 118 completed questionnaires with settlement specific responses to the suggested development sites within the Valley. The written comments included were most valuable and have given the Neighbourhood Plan Working Party valuable understanding of people's concerns and ideas. Additionally, we have the 70 responses from the questionnaire distributed in Piddlehinton in November (a 40% return). The outcome of this differed in that one site was approved by a 63% majority.

We have also received feedback from West Dorset District Council (WDDC) on the sites and they have raised a number of concerns about many sites, with less than half seeming viable at first evaluation. In light of your feedback combined with that from WDDC, we have concluded that the strategy of nominating development sites within the Neighbourhood Plan is flawed and accordingly have decided to remove them from the maps.

We propose to present a small number of sites which have particular promise for providing local (affordable) housing and produce potential layouts for these which will explore how the land could be used, so that everyone can see and comment on whether they should be included in the Neighbourhood Plan.

First Consultation of Draft Piddle Valley Neighbourhood Plan.

Saturday 25th April 2015

10 am-4 pm

Piddle Valley First School, Piddletrenthide

News Letter No 12 - 01/01/15

Five meetings were held in November and December, one in each settlement, to consult on Neighbourhood Plan policies and housing suggestions and they were very helpful to the Working Party in providing many clear views and advice on our proposals. All were chaired by Geoff Wright an independent planning expert with extensive experience of Neighbourhood Plans. We are also very pleased that Jo Witherden recorded the meetings as she will be assisting us with the writing of the Plan and has very up to date knowledge of Neighbourhood Plan requirements having until recently been a senior planner in the WDDC Planning Department.

Attendance at the meetings was generally good with 42 at Alton Pancras (plus 10 members of the Neighbourhood Plan team), 39 at Piddletrenthide (plus 12), 27 at Plush (plus 12), 25 at White Lackington (plus 12) and 52 at Piddlehinton (plus 15).

A questionnaire seeking comments on the suggested development sites in each settlement was distributed at each meeting (with the audience being asked to take copies away for others) and the number of responses received to these (by the closing date of 8 December) was Alton Pancras 26, Piddletrenthide 14, Plush 7, White Lackington 8 and Piddlehinton 29. It should be noted that 70 responses have also been received from Piddlehinton residents from the questionnaires delivered to each address in that parish.

With the exception of Piddlehinton, the NP Working Group consider that the number of responses received may not accurately represent residents thoughts, therefore they propose to hand deliver questionnaires to every address in Alton Pancras, Piddletrenthide, Plush and White Lackington early in 2015, which will give everyone in these settlements the opportunity to complete a questionnaire. An analysis of all comments received will be carried out and acted upon by the Housing Group. A report will be published in the next edition of News and Views.

News Letter No 11 - 01/11/14
Housing - both for open market and low cost for local people

The main focus of our work during the past two months has been consideration of suggested sites for housing in Piddlehinton. The publication of these sites at the local fetes, and in the last edition of Piddle Valley News and Views, prompted some concerned and informative emails about the proposals and comments on the way they were selected. Consequently an informal meeting was arranged for the correspondents, and others interested, and this was held on 8th October in the Piddlehinton village hall.

Over 80 residents attended and we were gratified that this represented more than a 20% turnout, an indicator of excellent local participation.

The role of the Neigbourhood Plan was described and the approach taken by the Piddle Valley Neighbourhood Plan Housing group was described. There followed discussion of the group's working method and issues around the suggested sites for new housing. Full notes of the meeting may be found Here.

The Housing group has subsequently met to discuss the issues raised and modify proposals. The changes decided by the Housing group relate to the following sites in Piddlehinton :

  • High Street - Remove the site from our plans but refer it to the Village group for further consideration.
  • Paynes Close - Leave the site in our plans but ask the Village group to advise further.
  • London Row - Remove the site from our plans but refer it to the Village group for further consideration.
  • New Site - A new site at Dales Corner, south of the village, has been proposed for consideration and this has also been referred to the Village group.

In addition, an important outcome of the Piddleinton meeting has been the formation of a group within that village to consider other potential housing options. I am delighted that Vicky Stevens, Alan Philips, Bob Cunningham, Paul White, Katrina Baker Copp and Vicky Miles have come forward to join under Piddlehinton group leader, Sara Milne This group will pass their ideas to the Housing group.

Towards the end on November through to the beginning of December, a meeting for each of the Valley villages will be held. At each meeting the sets of policies proposed for building within and outside villages will be presented, in addition to the sites identified as having good potential for new houses (see maps in Newsletter No 10, below). It will be very helpful to have as many local people as possible at each meeting so we may learn your views and ideas.

Village Meetings - Please make a note of the Village meeting dates and come along and "have your say" - we really do want your input and views.

News Letter No 10 - 01/09/14

During the summer months the Housing Group has been concentrating on telling people about our proposals for planned housing development in the Valley over the lifetime of the Neighbourhood Plan. Our emphasis continues to be identifying sites for Local housing with some 50 across the Valley appearing to be possible at this stage.

We have been showing maps at the village fetes and asking for comment and ideas. At the Alton Pancras Fete on May 24th the map showed the whole Valley with the proposed village boundaries marked. These boundaries will allow the Plan to have policies for housing and other building development inside and outside villages. As a result of comments received the positions of some boundaries were changed.

At the Piddletrenthide Fete on 22nd June the map showed the boundaries and also the sites within the villages, which we have identified as having the potential for new housing during the 15 year life of the Plan. Comments were generally favourable and led to discussions that were valuable in improving our knowledge of the Valley.

At Piddlehinton fete on 19th July we showed the same map and again received helpful and informative comments. Some residents were unhappy about what they saw and eight emails were subsequently sent and to which I responded on behalf of the Housing Group, explaining our thinking and clarifying some misunderstandings.

We will be holding an informal meeting with those involved to discuss the sites further.

At the Gardens Club Show on 16th August the maps initiated generally supportive discussion with one concerned comment recorded.

The key map below indicates the area of each village that has been addressed. If you click on the relevant link below, a more detailed map of the vilage will open in Adobe in a new window. It can then be enlarged and scrolled about using the usual controls.

key map for the whole valley

News Letter No 9 - 01/07/14

The number of households who have close family or work ties with the Valley and are seeking accommodation (as identified from our survey and West Dorset District Council housing lists) totals 50. This is a high figure and greater than any other similar areas in the district, going to show how keen people are to stay in our beautiful valley and close to families. The number is higher than can be housed in the near future but does indicate the importance of more local (affordable) housing being built to meet demand over the next 15 years (the lifetime of the Neighbourhood Plan).

It has also become apparent that there is a very large demand for small one and two bedroom dwellings, which could be provided by houses or flats. The Working Party will soon be debating housing targets over the period.

A joint meeting held with the Environment, Landscape and Farming group demonstrated that we have both developed very similar approaches to the use of land and allowed us to endorse the sites identified for potential building. These are being shown on maps at the summer village fetes.

Our policies for inclusion in the Neighbourhood Plan are crystallising and will include:

  • The need to develop opportunities for the building of local housing to allow local people to remain in the valley.
  • The need to protect the quality of the built environment and ensure there is no impact on the beauty of the valley.
  • Protection of designated green or wooded spaces within and around villages to maintain community resources and historic features.
  • The need to protect certain views as seen from public rights of way.
  • The drawing up of village boundaries to control growth.
  • Criteria for accommodating new housing within villages.
  • Identification of sites where houses may be built without damaging the character of the villages.
  • Support for conversion of historic or older buildings for housing where they have no other agricultural of community use.
  • Support for replacing existing large houses, or older housing, of poor design quality with modern eco friendly dwellings which make better use of the land available.
  • Criteria to assist in the design of new buildings being sympathetic to those around them.

News Letter No 8 - 01/05/14

We have been awaiting information from West Dorset District Council about the numbers of people on their housing lists that require accommodation in the Piddle Valley. This will be available by the end of April and will be combined with the results of our own survey to give a clear picture of local housing requirements (note, all information provided by the Council will be anonymous). Anticipating the need for a good number of housing units (first discussions with the District Council indicate it could be as many as 40), the Working Party has been investigating the ways in which a Community Land Trust might be set up in the Valley to ensure both the initial provision of low cost housing and its continuation in the future. More information about Community Land Trusts may be found at .

We do not propose large housing developments as have been carried out by some Community Land Trusts but to use infill spaces between existing housing groups for small clusters of houses (eg 3 or more) and would welcome any suggestions from readers for potential locations across the villages.

We will shortly be meeting with the members of the Environment Group to compare and combine our proposals for housing locations, protected areas of land, protected views and land use policies. These will be combined onto a large map of the valley with the intention that it can be presented to the Working Party and subsequently be available for viewing by all at this summer's village fetes.

The group has also reviewed the Piddle Valley Design Statement (produced in 2005) which will form part of the supporting evidence for the Neighbourhood Plan. We have identified items from the report to be incorporated into the Housing chapter of the Neighbourhood Plan.

News Letter No 7 - 01/03/14

Our work over the past two months has been primarily concerned with gaining better understanding of the present Defined Development Boundaries and future developable sites. The former provide an outline around areas within villages that are considered to be suitable to allow development, subject to normal planning applications and procedures. Developable sites can be designated within or outside these boundaries and are where applications to build will be assessed positively provided they comply with defined environmental and design restrictions which will be similar to those being adopted for Neighbourhood Plans emerging in other areas of the country. We are also reviewing the natural boundaries of the villages as they meet the countryside and their relationship to previous Defined Development Boundaries.

In considering potential developable sites we have been identifying land that might well be considered appropriate for building with regard to likely services availability, vehicle and pedestrian access and, most importantly, the factors of visual impact, availability of services and building density. Owners of land in these sites may have no current interest in development but as the Neighbourhood Plan will be adopted over 15-20 years there will be potential for future use of this land. Others have identified land they own for consideration in this regard. To provide a degree of objectivity we are developing the assessment criteria which we shall propose in order to establish whether a piece of land is appropriate and graded within such designation during the plan period.

News Letter No 6 - 01/01/14

The Housing and Land Survey Questionnaire distributed with the November edition of Piddle Valley News and Views led to 18 responses, 6 were proposals for land use and the remainder gave information about housing needs.

The meeting held on 25th November to discuss the survey was attended by 25 people and led to some very useful discussion which helped the Neighbourhood Plan Housing Group better understand people's needs. The overwhelming number of comments related to the problems local people face in affording housing whose prices have been driven up by market forces. Among the points discussed around this topic were:

1. The negative connotations of the commonly used description 'affordable housing' with its implication that people are poor, and the terms 'local' or 'low cost' were offered as better.

2. The possibility of a Piddle Valley Housing Trust being established to build 'local' housing whose prices or rental charges would be lower than open market.

3. The possibility of land being made available for self builders - potentially to be administered by the Housing Trust.

4. Whether house owners without relatives would consider bequeathing their homes to a Housing Trust.

The housing information provided in the survey responses is shown in this chart; the need for 'low cost' housing clearly demonstrated and emphasised by those who stated that costs prevent them moving. There is a demand for larger houses, but perhaps surprisingly, a greater need stated for smaller houses - this concern relates particularly to those over 50.

An analysis of the responses suggests that 13 houses would be needed to satisfy the respondents' needs but this does not inlude the number (43) already registered with West Dorset District Council housing officer for the Piddle Valley.

Graph of housing needs

News letter No 5 - 01/11/13
Housing - both for open market and low cost for local people

It is likely that readers of PVNV would assume a neighbourhood plan is about where houses are built and little else and we hope the regular reports published here have demonstrated that there is much more than this involved. However, housing will be a central plank of the plan and this report will update you on our thinking.

The plan offers the great opportunity for us to decide how we want housing in the valley to develop over the next 15 years. It will change, whether there is a plan or not, as can be shown by looking back at changes over the past 15 years and we need to ensure that the beneficiaries of future change are the whole community. Young families who need to have a larger house; older people wanting to downsize; land owners wanting to build for their families or others; people who need to work and live in the community; people wishing to offer tourist accommodation and in so doing will help the local economy. And, of course, people wanting to move into the area to enjoy its wonderful countryside and resources. An 'open market' approach to development will serve some of these needs satisfactorily but many people who need to be in the area for family or work reasons, will not be able to afford commercial prices. In consequence, part of our plan will be to identify ways in which the building of lower cost housing can be supported.

The NP Housing Group has reviewed current and future West Dorset District Council housing plans and walked around all our villages. We have seen exactly where current defined development boundaries lie (limiting areas within which development may be allowed) and where there are clear opportunities for some houses to be built should landowners wish to do so. Our remit is to protect the integrity of villages and where appropriate enhance their future viability by generating plans for growth without this damaging their character. The stages of our work are:

  • Understand development areas as just described.
  • Understand central government requirements placed on the District Council for future housing numbers.
  • Understand the existing housing stock - we are compiling plans for each village identifying whether houses are owner occupied, let, etc.
  • Understand the local demand for housing. Enclosed with this Nov 2013 edition of PVNV, is a Survey asking you to respond if you have a need for or a wish to build housing whether low-cost or not.
  • Investigate ways in which low cost housing can be developed and prevented from subsequently entering the commercial market.
  • Identify demand for live/work accommodation and potential locations. We need all the feedback we can get to inform our work, so please do respond to the Survey, come to the Housing Focus Group Open Meeting on the 25th November and please do write to us if you wish to comment on what we are doing.

News Letter No 4 - 01/09/13

We have been consulting and meeting with individuals and representatives across the community to gain ideas and support for the Neighbourhood Plan and have now identified various sites in the valley that may be suitable for a variety of uses including :

  • low cost housing
  • open market housing (or a mixture of the two)
  • live/work units
  • social facilities for the valley

If you know of a site that you think might be suitable for any of these uses please do get in touch as we need input from as many residents in the valley as possible. We are currently organising a Housing Needs Survey to try to determine the housing needs for the valley over approximately the next ten years. This will not only look at the need for low cost housing but should indicate what other types of housing are wanted by the valley residents. The survey will be delivered to all households in the valley in the autumn and we would ask that everyone takes the time to look at it and complete and return, so that we can have a true picture of the housing needs.

News Letter No 3 - 01/07/13
Housing - both for open market and low cost for local people

The members of the Housing group have completed a full visual appraisal of all the potential development sites. It is recognised that in many cases the landowners may be unlikely to want developments to take place. However the intention is to recommend open land or small plots with good potential access and where development would have a positive impact on village topology and continue or complete existing runs of housing. Should the identified land be made available at some future date the Neighbourhood Plan would support its development.

Issues of affordable and open market housing, accessibility, transport facilities and village facilities such as pubs, shops and halls are being reviewed in considering community development.