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Llanarth affordable housing project

Local needs affordable housing in rural communities Wales - Rural Housing Enabler - Monmouthsire Llanarth Voice

Llanarth is a small village located in rural north Monmouthshire about 7 miles from Abergavenny. Over the years, as with many other areas throughout theUK, all the local services have disappeared and the closest bus service is about one mile away. Llanarth still has a village hall with playground and cricket pitch and the nearbyLlanarthCourtHospitalprovides local employment opportunities.

As a result of the Right to Buy only 14 houses remain for social rent throughout the Llanarth Community Council area and it is very rare for any of them to become available. The majority of other housing in the area is large detached properties which are owned by the local large estates and rented privately.

Llanarth Monmouthshire - affordable housingThe Monmouthshire and South Powys Rural Housing Enabler first made contact with Llanarth Community Council in January 2005, carrying out a local housing needs survey with support of the community council in February 2006, when over 300 survey forms were sent out. The response rate for the survey was 36% and 22 respondents identified themselves as being in housing need. Nearly 70% of respondents had lived in the area for over 10 years and nearly 90% of respondents thought that some housing should be built.

A community event was held in 2007 to disseminate the results of the survey and ask local residents where they thought affordable housing could be built. A report was compiled detailing all potential sites and sent to Monmouthshire County Council (MCC) planners for comment.

After receipt of comments from MCC on which of the sites would be acceptable for development, the community council decided that the Llanarth site, which was in the ownership of the local authority to be their preferred choice. MCC agreed to release the land as a rural exception site at a reduced cost. Initial plans were then drawn up for 6 houses. An open evening was held in October 2009 to showcase the designs of the houses and ask local people to comment on them. The designs were revised as a result of comments received.

As the development would be reliant on Social Housing Grant (SHG), an application was made to the Welsh Government which was approved at the end of 2009. The preferred Registered Social Landlord (RSL) for the properties was Monmouthshire Housing Association, but the development itself was managed by Melin Homes.

Llanarth Monmouthsire - affordable housing The development was completed in November 2010. During the construction period the contractors OPCO offered their services free of charge to the community and as a result the village hall was refurbished, which included the fitting of a new kitchen.

Monmouthshire operate a Rural Allocations Policy and 6 local families moved into their new homes in December 2010. The site was officially opened by Jocelyn Davies, the Deputy Minister for Housing in January 2011.

In September 2011, for the first time in 25 years a playgroup opened up in Llanarth Village Hall. At least 10 local families are now attending. The playgroup was opened up by one of the residents of the new homes after a start up grant from MCC.

When discussing the project at a community council meeting, one of the community councillors said “This is the best thing this council has ever done. We’d do it all over again if we had a chance, as it’s made such a difference to the community.”

Published in The Voice - Issue 21 - January 2013 - One Voice Wales - The Voice of Town and Community Councils in Wales.