Balconies in Bowness copyright Charlie Hedley

Affordable housing

The lack of affordable housing is a national issue, but the need is even more acute in the Lake District National Park.

So why don't you build more houses?

We do not build houses. But as the organisation responsible for planning in the Lake District National Park, we try to make sure new buildings or conversions are of a type needed by people who live and work locally.

We do this through:

  • our planning policies.
  • consulting local communities about their needs. For example we're surveying parishes to find out how many affordable homes are needed and asking the public if they have viable land for development.
  • Asking our Development Control staff to work closely with local housing groups to find out what's needed.
  • Being involved in Cumbria's 'Fit For Purpose' Housing Strategy. This is the first in the country and makes sure planning, transport and economic development and housing strategies complement each other.

What issues affect the Lake District in particular?

  • Low wage levels leading to a gap between local incomes and house prices
  • High proportion of second home ownership
  • An increase in commuter homes and retirement homes
  • Shortage of land available for development
  • High price of building land
  • The need for quality design and use of materials sympathetic to the National Park to fit in with the surrounding environment 

What does 'affordable housing' mean?

Affordable housing includes social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing, provided to eligible households whose needs are not met by the market. Affordable housing should:

  • Meet the needs of eligible households including availability at a cost low enough for them to afford. This is worked out by taking into account local incomes and house prices.
  • Include provision for the home to remain at an affordable price for future eligible households.

We use legal agreements, known as Section 106s, to make sure that houses remain affordable not just for the first occupant but for future residents too, or in perpetuity.

For an explanation of the government's housing strategy and the definitions of affordable housing we use, please look at the National Planning Policy Framework (opens in new window).

Section 106 agreements

These legal agreements place restrictions on affordable housing. They are drafted under the provisions of section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

You can use the sample agreements as templates. They show the sort of restrictions that can be placed on affordable property. The exact wording depends on the property's location and whether a housing association is involved.

  1. TEMPLATE Cumbrian Std 106 Temp
  2. TEMPLATE section 106 agreement housing
  3. TEMPLATE section 106 agreement non-housing

Some Section 106 agreements require you to apply for a certificate of local affordable housing need before occupying a property, or when a property is sold. You should submit an application form for certificate of local affordable housing need (PDF opens in new window) or application form for certificate of local affordable housing need (Word document opens in new window) to our Solicitor.

What does 'local occupancy' mean?

This sometimes appears in estate agents' adverts. Occupancy restrictions mean only people who meet certain criteria can live in a particular house.  There are three key types of restriction:

  • Occupancy conditions on planning permissions granted under the Town and Country Planning Act
  • Planning obligations - these are legal agreements
  • Occupancy restructions imposed by the Housing Authority (the District Council) under the Housing Act when a former council house was sold under Right to Buy

Restrictions vary from property to property, and need to be checked on a case by case basis. The vendor and their estate agent should have a copy of any restriction readily available because these are important documents.

Useful documents

Facts and figures

Median figures

  • Average median house price in the National Park was £254,477 (CACI 2012)
  • Average median household income in the National Park in 2011 was £26,899 (CACI 2012)
  • Based on median figures the income to house price affordability ratio is 9.5:1

Lower quartile figures

These refer to people on low incomes and lower house prices.

  • House price in the National Park was £182,901
  • Household income was £14,205
  • Income to house price affordability ratio is 12.9:1 (CACI 2012)

General

  • 17.68 per cent of the existing housing stock in the National Park are second homes and/or holiday homes (Census 2001; LDF Technical Report Nos. 2) For more information take a look at our Supporting Research and Evidence page.
  • In some areas this is even greater, for example in Coniston 51 per cent of the existing housing stock is either used as a second home and/or holiday home (Coniston Parish Plan)
  • The percentage of second homes should not be more than 20 per cent as this appears to affect the sustainability of any village. ( An Effective way to sustain our rural communities, Blenkinship and Gibbons, 2003)

I want to build a new house or development. What do I need to know?

Useful documents

Housing associations

Much of the new housing to be developed over the next five years or so is likely to be built by Housing Associations. These associations also have properties to rent or buy a share in. Local associations include (all links open in new window):

Six local authorities and eight housing associations have developed a single system to let Council and housing association homes in Cumbria. More information on Cumbria Choice (opens in new window).