Proposed new homes off Singleton Avenue, Horwich
We applied for planning permission to build 48 quality affordable homes on land off Singleton Avenue in Horwich. Here we answer questions about the proposed development.
What are we proposing to build and where?
Earlier this year we applied to Bolton Council for planning permission to build 48 new homes in Horwich comprising 30 three-bedroom properties, 16 two-bedroom and two bungalows.
The application site is an area of land owned by the council to the rear of numbers 15-49 Singleton Avenue.
This land is a separate plot to the adjacent Green Lane playing fields. The playing fields, also owned by the council, are not part of our application and would remain in council ownership for recreational use by the community.
What stage are these plans at?
While the development was recommended for approval by the council’s planning officers, our planning application was refused in July by the council’s planning committee. We are looking to appeal this decision.
Why have we chosen this site?
As part of plans to ensure there’s enough land to meet future housing needs, councils often set land aside for housing development.
This site was allocated for housing by Bolton Council in 2014 and the development also has the backing of Homes England, the public body that funds new affordable housing in the England.
We want to purchase the land from the council and be able to build the proposed homes.
Isn’t this land protected from development?
The playing fields at Green Lane are protected by the council for recreational use. However, this is not the land we are proposing to develop. Our proposed development is for the separate plot of land behind the homes on Singleton Avenue. It isn’t green belt land.
We have reviewed the ‘report on title’ with HM Land Registry for the land we intend to develop and this is not subject to any restrictions that would prevent new homes being built.
We consider all the available sites presented to us, both brownfield and greenfield. However we need to focus our efforts on sites that are available for sale to enable us to provide affordable and low-cost housing to local people and quickly.
As this site was allocated for housing by the council, and is backed by Homes England, it meets our criteria as a suitable site for providing new homes.
Why are we building homes in Horwich?
Our figures show there is clear demand for new affordable homes right across the borough, including from people in Horwich. These homes will allow local people looking for a place to live to stay in the area, helping people keep close to their families and maintain local connections.
Since August 2018, 15 three-bedroom homes became available to rent from Bolton at Home in Horwich with an average of 169 applications from people per property. In the same period 14 two-bedroom affordable homes became available, with each one averaging 114 applications.
The Right to Buy and Right to Acquire have also affected the amount of affordable housing available to rent, reducing the number of two and three-bedroom Bolton at Home houses in Horwich by 34% since 2011.
We created a development of 22 new affordable homes, including two bungalows, at Catherine’s Close, Horwich, on land off Leicester Avenue. We had over 800 expressions of interest in these homes and 16 of the homes were rented by people with a local connection.
This is why we’re aiming to create 1,400 new homes by April 2024. Our focus is on providing a wide choice of quality affordable homes in the areas where people need them most, keeping communities and families together.
Can’t the affordable homes be built as part of private developments?
Private residential developments are being built in Horwich as in other areas and most of these will be required by law to include some affordable housing within them. However, private developers often need to keep the numbers of affordable properties to a minimum to make the development profitable. This would leave a major shortage of affordable properties in the borough.
Because we’re a community benefit society, building homes for people not profit, we are committed to build where new homes are needed, where land is available and where it is financially viable.
What about local concerns regarding traffic congestion and parking?
We understand there can be some concerns when a new housing development is proposed within a community, particularly with large scale developments.
Our proposed development at Singleton Avenue is relatively modest in terms of the number of properties. The work done by our consultants in preparing this planning application shows the development is in a sustainable location and would have no significant impact on traffic levels.
It will provide 200% car parking provision, which means each home will have parking on site for two vehicles, with all cars being contained within the development.
Will this development put a strain on local schools?
Our proposed homes are aimed primarily at local people already living in Horwich and who will already be using existing services, including school places. We don’t foresee the development placing additional strain on local schools.
Are these homes being built for profit?
Bolton at Home is a community benefit society, not a private developer. Our remit as a ‘not-for-profit’ organisation is to provide a range of affordable homes and to help to regenerate communities. The income we receive from renters, and from those buying a property under shared ownership, is reinvested in improving communities. We have no duty to make a profit for shareholders or investors.
Who are these homes at Singleton Avenue aimed at and how much will they cost?
There are 48 homes in our proposed development. Local people or those with local connections would be given priority.
40 of the homes would be made available to rent at local Housing Allowance rates. This means the rents would be capped below the affordable rent rate, which is usually set at 80% of the market rent level in an area.
Another eight homes would be made available for shared ownership allowing people to get on the property ladder in a more affordable way and following the success of our first shared ownership scheme at Park Grove, off Park Road, in Westhoughton.
Shared ownership is a cross between buying and renting a home. A person buys a share of the property, usually between a quarter and three quarters, and then rents the part they don’t own at a reduced rate. They then have the option to buy a bigger share in the property in future.
For more info on finding a new home, please click here.