As part of the work towards a Marlborough Area Neighbourhood Plan (MANP) for Marlborough and four surrounding parishes, the Town Council commissioned a housing needs study. This is being published as a stand-alone document and can be accessed on the MANP website – see below.
The plan has already been used in conversations between councillors and Redrow Housing who have bought the large Salisbury Road development site, which has planning permission for 175 homes. Copies of the report were given to the two Redrow executives who came to answer questions from the town council’s planning committee on May 30.
Councillors have been worried about the mix of house types and sizes proposed by Redrow. And the study makes it clear that more smaller – two and three bedroom -homes are needed for the local population.
The eighty page report from Cobweb Consulting contains a wealth of interesting statistics and makes clear the differences in average earnings and house prices between the town and the rural parishes.
The Plan area has a population of 8,406 (2015) – that shows an increase of six per cent since 2001. Ninety per cent of the area’s 3,800 households live in Marlborough and the area has more on and two-person households and ‘significantly’ more 65+ households than the national average.
Some of the findings are stark: “Based on a definition that a household should not have to pay more than 33 per cent of gross income on housing costs, the income required to service a lower quartile purchase entry price of £220,000 in Marlborough would be £47,000 pa.” But latest figures put the average income at £37.960.
The equivalent sum for the more expensive rural areas would be just under £54,000. The earnings young people need to be able to afford a lower rental home are even scarier.
The impact of high housing costs and the poor supply of first-time homes (whether for purchase or rent) is obvious: “Marlborough College is of considerable impact on the local economy, responsible for direct and indirect provision of 750 [full time equivalent] jobs…short supply and high costs of local housing (and the alternative expense of commuting) have made it difficult for the college to recruit lower or medium-paid staff.”
The views and needs of residents and of employers was gauged through postal and web surveys – these produced 996 responses. Some of the headlines throw significant light on what Marlborough needs for the future – or at least up to 2026.
Answering the survey, around 400 households indicated they wanted to move within the next five years. They comprised 243 existing households wanting to move together, and 161 newly-forming households moving into independent accommodation.
Of those 400 one third aspired to a one-bedroom home – a really significant figure for planners to take note of. Another 35 per cent aspired to a two-bed, 25 per cent to a three-bed, and just seven per cent to a four-bed or larger home.
64 per cent would prefer an owner occupied home as their next residence, though only 56 per cent of the total expected to achieve that.
Around 15 per cent both preferred and expected to be social renters. Four per cent wanted their next home to be privately rented. But 13 per cent of the total 400 expected that this would be the case – “reluctant renters whose choices are limited by other factors”.
In terms of location 72 per cent would prefer to remain in the MANP area. Very few households – only nine – preferred to move into sheltered or retirement
accommodation, and there were only seven who expected to do so.
This very detailed report makes it very clear that the main shortage in Marlborough and the surrounding parishes is for smaller homes which are suitable either for first time buyers or for those starting a family. These should be two or three bedroom homes – but should also include a good proportion of single bedroom homes.
The full report can be read via the Marlborough Area Neighbourhood Plan website.