Outcome 9: Great Places to Live
Communities in the National Park are more sustainable with an appropriate provision of housing to address local needs and improved access to essential services and facilities.
- WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
The residents of the National Park play a pivotal role in sustaining its vibrant communities and shaping its unique landscapes.
There is real pride in our towns and villages, and many people dedicate time and resources to enhancing community life, conserving what is important to their local area and planning for the needs of future generations.
Together we want to help our communities to become more sustainable and resilient and to provide environments that improve health and wellbeing, where residents have better access to housing, jobs, facilities, infrastructure and the
services they need.
For this outcome our priorities for the next five years are:
- 9.1 INCREASE AFFORDABLE HOUSING
To increase affordable housing stock in the National Park, with focus on exemplary design and using local sustainable materials.
All National Parks have higher house prices than the average for their constituent counties, with average house prices equivalent to 11.6 times local earnings (14.6 in the South Downs National Park).
The high proportion of larger properties, and the associated high price of housing, makes access to affordable housing a key issue facing many local communities. Young people and young families, in particular, find it difficult to get low-cost housing that would enable them to continue living in the area.
This has the potential to increase the average age of the population in our communities, placing further pressure on existing services, and increasing the need for people to travel to find suitable affordable accommodation and
The South Downs Local Plan requires 50 per cent affordable homes on sites of 11 or more and to have affordable housing provision on smaller sites.
- 9.2 SUPPORT VIBRANT COMMUNITIES
To support community-led initiatives which enhance the towns, villages and landscapes of the National Park.
The majority of National Park residents live in the market towns (Lewes, Petersfield, Midhurst and Petworth) or, the larger villages.
These vibrant larger settlements provide essential services and facilities for their residents, but importantly also for those from the surrounding rural areas.
The individual character and appearance of our smaller and more isolated settlements make them attractive places to live, but it is here that accessing services and facilities is most difficult.
There are 176 Town and Parish Councils − and even more distinct communities − across the National Park.
The majority are already engaged in community led planning and initiatives to
improve local quality of life and make them more resilient and attractive for residents and visitors.
The Authority has already supported the preparation of over 150 Community Led Plans, including 56 Neighbourhood Plans, and these are invaluable to understand local issues and aspirations.
In a protected landscape such as ours, neighbourhood planning provides an important way to reconcile the need to conserve and enhance the landscape while allowing for appropriate levels of growth, and the groups that have formed to create them may often go on to start other projects in their communities.
- 9.3 IMPROVE DIGITAL INFRASTRUCTURE
To support improvement in digital infrastructure, speed and coverage throughout the South Downs National Park.
At 82%, the percentage of superfast broadband available to premises in the National Park is significantly lower than the national average (just under 95%) and the UK Government target (97%16).
‘Not spots’ (where properties are unable to receive 2 Mbit/s) cover 1.3% of the
area, whereas the national average is 0.4%. 4.9 Availability of gigabit-capable broadband is crucial if the National Park is to attract and retain high value businesses, for whom this is becoming the baseline requirement.
Better digital connectivity also benefits residents and encourages more home working which will reduce out-commuting.
In order to start, grow and retain business in the National Park we must future proof by improving the digital infrastructure right across the National Park.
Example: West Sussex County Council Rural Digital Connectivity Project
Access to future-proofed and reliable broadband is vital to the set up and growth of rural businesses.
Currently in the discovery phase, this West Sussex County Council-led project aims to overcome issues of poor connectivity in rural areas by providing
full fibre infrastructure between Chichester and Horsham districts.
It is envisaged that the project will enable new and accessible full fibre broadband infrastructure to reach rural ‘not spots’.
It may also enable smaller internet service providers and local self-build communities to invest in and grow the fibre network.
An additional benefit may be a boost in coverage from mobile operators where currently 4G coverage is not available or provided by only one commercial operator.
Delivery is part of the wider West Sussex Full Fibre Programme which includes complementary projects and opportunities aimed at increasing coverage of gigabit-capable digital infrastructure.
The Programme also includes national initiatives such as the government’s Rural Gigabit Connectivity Voucher Scheme aimed specifically at rural areas where current broadband speeds are less than 30mbps.
Rural Gigabit vouchers can be used by groups of rural properties to contribute to the installation cost of a gigabit capable connection.
Businesses within a group can claim up to £3,500 against the cost of a connection and residents can claim for a voucher of up to a value of £1500.
For more information visit this link