Future housing should provide 'different designs, custom and self-build options'

Houses Saffron Walden

Residents could have more designs to choose from under the new Local Plan, and have custom or self-built properties - Credit: Andra Maciuca

The new Local Plan should encourage housebuilders to provide different designs and opportunities for custom and self-build properties. 

This is one of the recommendations made by Jo Mills, of Ark Housing Consultancy, during a community stakeholder meeting focused on housing. 

The meeting is part of a larger consultation on topics such as transport and leisure, which will help draft a plan for future houses in Uttlesford. 

Ms Mills said the council and all partners should have a “real commitment to quality”. 

She said: “That means house design on the outside, but also the need to have space to work and study, as we have become aware over the past year. 

“It’s also important to think about how the outdoor space is designed."

She thinks seating areas would encourage residents to meet in the street or in smaller private gardens. 

She also highlighted the need for well-insulated properties, which would help residents save money on energy bills, whilst tackling climate change. 

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Ms Mills spoke about the need for affordable housing, social rent and shared ownership, because of salary challenges in the district. 

She said: “Sixty percent of residents earn less than £34,000 a year. Forty percent of residents earn below £25,000.

“To buy a two-bedroom home in Uttlesford costing around £325,000, it needs a household income of £50,000, plus the deposit to get a mortgage. 

“For a two-bedroom shared ownership home you need a deposit, but a smaller one, and a household income of £30,000.” 

She added Rent to Buy options would allow renters to eventually buy the property they are renting, or take a deposit amount of money and buy elsewhere. 

Ms Mills said if there was a good range of properties for private rent, demand would increase.

She added: “We also recommend strengthening the market rented offer through Build to Rent – a flat or house designed to be rented with a smaller garden, because people may not want to look after it if they don’t live there long-term.” 

The last community stakeholder presentation,  'Creating new places and communities', is scheduled for March 24.

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