Plan for more affordable homes across the Melton borough

Melton MP the Rt Hon Sir Alan Duncan and Melton borough councillor for the Somerby ward Leigh Higgins in Thorpe Satchville EMN-160712-155124001
Melton MP the Rt Hon Sir Alan Duncan and Melton borough councillor for the Somerby ward Leigh Higgins in Thorpe Satchville EMN-160712-155124001
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More young couples and single people could afford to stay living in Melton villages if a new initiative is adopted across the borough.

That is the claim of Melton Council deputy leader Leigh Higgins after he helped persuade a developer to include an affordable property on a small development at Pickwell.

Rural Insight planned to build five two-bed homes and a three-bed cottage off Leesthorpe Road.

Councillors went against recommendations by an officer to refuse the scheme after one of the two-bed properties was offered as a starter home following dialogue between the developer and Councillor Higgins, the ward member.

The house will be earmarked for a buyer under 40 years of age and at a 20 per cent discount from market value, in line with a new government initiative.

Councillor Higgins said after the meeting: “This is only one affordable property but it’s the example we can give to a developer and say if you don’t give us something on a voluntary basis for the good of the community we don’t have to approve your plans.

“If we can get a couple of starter homes provided in each village it will make a huge difference to the borough.

“I have a list of about 15 people, couples and single people, who want to stay living in Somerby ward but they can’t afford to.

“We need to have a mixture of all ages in our villages to help keep amenities such as schools, shops and pubs going.”

Councillor Higgins pointed out that developers can build developments of up to 11 large homes before they are required to provide a proportion of affordable properties.

But he believes that an early intervention by a ward councillor could influence them to include a starter home even in small schemes, with the incentive that Melton planners would look more favourably on the application.

Councillor Higgins, who has responsibility for Somerby, Twyford, Thorpe Satchville, John O’Gaunt, Pickwell, Leesthorpe, Cold Overton and Knossington, said “The Somerby ward has over 300 large four and five-bed housing and only 150 two-bed homes which this relatively small application at Pickwell seeks to address.

“There are a significant number of residents who want their own home within the ward but due to a lack of affordable supply they simply cannot get on the ladder.

“Interestingly, after the Pickwell decision I had three young people ask how they can register their interest for the house such is the level of interest here.”

Councillor Higgins added: “For too long developers have built housing looking at their profits and rarely offered developments that provide a mix.

“Many villages are likely to receive applications for development but we need them to ensure they offer something to the local community.

“By working together with councillors and parish councils, we can use this decision to show that housing need and Mix are extremely important to keep communities together over the next generation.”

Are you a couple or a single person who wants to remain living in a Melton village but can’t afford to buy? Email us at editor@meltontimes.co.uk