Welcome to our blog. Over the coming weeks we are inviting each of the topic groups to put forward ideas about the future in our communities. These short pieces are intended to get us thinking and spark debate so please join in, tell us what you think, and add your views to the conversation.
Jonathan Griffin, leader of the housing topic group, begins with an overview of the parish and asks what we may need in terms of housing for the future.
“A Neighbourhood Development Plan should be based on reality. Our parish stretches from the new development at Perran Foundry to the edge of Bissom, taking in the peninsulas of Trefusis and Greatwood, bounded by Restronguet Creek and the Penryn river. For historical reasons it does not include the Enys estate. Outside the villages of Flushing and Mylor Bridge there are some sizable hamlets including Restronguet Passage and Mylor Churchtown.
What do we know about people and housing? Precise figures are hard to pin down but we have some good indicators. There are approaching 3,000 people in the parish with an age profile which peaks at the over 65 age bracket (32% are over 65 against a national average of 18%). Some 475 are retired (35% against a national average of 21%).
Two frequent comments one hears are that there are ‘too many second homes, especially in Flushing but also in some of the outlying hamlets’ , and that ‘we need more affordable homes’. Are these true and, if so, what can we do about them?
There is a great disparity in house prices in the parish. The average price is around £427,000 which is well above the average for the South West in general, and the affordability gap is indeed significant. Even the cheapest houses are around £100,000 more than a couple on average Cornish salaries could typically borrow (the figure for England is about £68,000). It would take nearly 8 years of total earnings to buy a house at this level, compared with 6.5 years in the rest of England.
As one might expect in a rural area, houses are more likely to be detached (51% against an average of 22%) and owner-occupied (77% vs 64%). Only about 8% are social-rented against a national average of 18%. There are also said to be around 120 second homes in the parish: 8% against a national average of less than 1%.
The disparity is most stark when looking at Council Tax bands. Some 61% of houses are in the highest bands D-G compared with a national figure of 25%; and 15% are in bands A-B against a national average of 50%. So yes, there is a high proportion of second homes and a shortage of affordable homes, and these are very expensive.
Despite appearances, the parish has actually been growing steadily. An average of about 14 houses were built in each of the years between 1945 and 2000 but this has fallen to around 6 houses a year since then.
One only has to think of the 10 houses in Tregew Meadow (Flushing), the 32 in Robert Rundle Way, the 14 in Mylor Gardens and the 35 in Perran Foundry, to realise that this rate must have picked up recently. All seem to have been absorbed without major loss of valuable landscape. Three of them have provided additional affordable housing. Whatever one thinks of the individual developments, it does show that gentle growth is possible.
Despite the desire of many not to change the parish, it is actually already changing and this must be a good thing if we want a mixed community. With the shortage of houses across the land and the number of homeless people, a Banana (Build Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone) strategy is neither credible nor responsible. Worse, it is simply selfish.
Surely we should be planning for reasonable, measured growth in the number of houses. The question is ‘what does managed growth look like?’ Our next blog piece will look further at housing priorities, but for now, what do you think? What does the parish need in terms of housing for the future? If change is inevitable, how can we make it work for everyone while preserving our beautiful environment?”