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Bourne Green

Lettings Plan

Affordable Rent Homes

Definitions

‘Allocations Scheme’ means the current version of Cherwell District Council Housing Allocation Scheme as amended from time to time.

‘Eligible’ means those persons or households that are eligible for inclusion on Cherwell District Councils Housing Register. 

‘Nominations Agreement’ means the agreement between Cherwell District Council and Soha Housing in force at the time of letting. 

Aims

Hook Norton Community Land Trust (HNCLT) provides affordable, sustainable, community- led housing in Hook Norton for those in housing need who can demonstrate a strong local connection to Hook Norton or the surrounding villages. The scheme at Bourne Green, Hook Norton has an ethos of community living with shared outside space and a range of communal facilities such as community café, workspace and guest rooms. 

 

The scheme is managed by Soha housing who will take the principal role in allocating available properties at the site under the criteria set out in this Lettings Plan. Nominations for each affordable home will be made from Cherwell District Council's Housing Register and passed on to Soha.

1. Principles of this plan

  • To work with Soha housing to ensure the properties are allocated in a fair, transparent and efficient way.

  • To ensure that any allocations are made following the Local Connections priority criteria laid out in this plan 

  • To give applicants a clear understanding of how to apply for properties and understand how allocations will be made. 

2. Eligibility

All applicants must register on Cherwell District Council’s (CDC) Housing Register and meet the criteria for inclusion on the register as set out by CDC’s Allocations Scheme.​

Applicants will be assessed on their level of housing need (determined by the Allocations Scheme) and their Local Connection (determined by this policy). If two applicants have the same level of priority, then the effective date that the priority was applied will be the deciding factor. 

3. Local Connection

For all allocations, priority will initially be given to people with a local connection to the Parish of Hook Norton.  Local Connection priority is laid out in the current Hook Norton Neighbourhood Plan. This may change from time to time and this Lettings Plan will be updated to reflect any agreed changes to the Neighbourhood plan.

 

To have a Local Connection to the parish of Hook Norton a person will need to be aged 16 years or above and meet 2 or more of the following criteria: 

 

  1. The person was born to parents residing in Hook Norton or lived in the Parish as a child up to the age of 16. Parents residing in Hook Norton refers to the parent’s address at the time of birth (as detailed on the birth certificate).

  2. The person normally resides in Hook Norton and has done so for a continuous period of at least 3 years. Normally resides means currently residing as the person’s main or principal home.

  3.  The person has immediate family who are currently resident in Hook Norton and have been so for at least 15 years. Immediate family is defined as per the Allocations Scheme.

  4. Hook Norton is the person’s permanent place of work. A place of work is defined as per the Allocations Scheme.

  5. People who have an essential need through age or disability to live close to those who have lived in Hook Norton for at least the last three years.

People or households who have, for whatever reason, the written support of the Parish Council.

If, after the property has been advertised on one letting cycle, there are no applicants who meet the Local Connection to the Parish of Hook Norton, then the property will be re-advertised on a further letting cycle, with priority again given to applicants with a Local Connection to Hook Norton (outlined above) and second priority given to those with a Local Connection (as above) to the following parishes that fall within the Cherwell area:

 

  • Sibford

  • Wigginton

  • Milcombe

 

If, after the property has been advertised on a second letting cycle there are no applicants with a Local Connection to Hook Norton or any of the Parishes listed above then the property will be advertised on a third and final letting cycle, with priority again given to those with a Hook Norton local connection, second priority given to those with a local connection to one of the parishes as above and third priority to all other eligible applicants on the District Council’s Housing register. 

 

Applicants will be nominated in accordance with CDC’s Nomination Agreement and in accordance with this Lettings Plan. Nominations from the CDC Housing Register are made by CDC to Soha housing, who will assess the nominee including verifying their Local Connection priority. The name of the nominee and evidence of the Local Connection will also be passed by Soha to HNCLT so that the community can be fully satisfied the Local Connection criteria is being adhered to. 

4. Application Procedure

All interested applicants for the rental homes need to register on the CDC Housing Register at the earliest opportunity as date of application may be a deciding factor in the allocation of homes. Applicants may also join HNCLTS Register of Interest list. HNCLT will inform applicants on this list about the progress of the properties as they are constructed and notify people if we know a property might become vacant in future. 

 

Full details of how to apply to the CDC Housing Register can be found on the CDC website www.cherwell.gov.uk, here: 

 

Allocation of social housing | Apply to join the housing register | Cherwell District Council

 

The application process can take several weeks. Applications will be assessed, and one of 4 bands will be applied, depending on the level of housing need. If a lower band is applied (Band 3 or 4) it does not necessarily mean applicants will not be allocated one of the homes at Bourne Green as applicants will be prioritised if they meet the Local Connection criteria over applicants who do not. 

 

Available properties across the district are advertised every week on Homechoice, CDCs choice - based lettings system.  See www.cherwell-homechoice.org.uk: 

Home - Homechoice (cherwell-homechoice.org.uk)

 

There is no requirement for applicants to bid for properties. Applicants only interested in the properties at Bourne Green can wait on the list until the properties are advertised. There may be a requirement to renew the application. 

 

In addition to being advertised on Homechoice, HNCLT will publicise when properties are going to become available through newsletters and other local media as well as directly notifying people on HNCLTs Register of Interest. 

 

When a property becomes available CDC will be notified by Soha housing and will then advertise the property. A shortlist of applicants who expressed an interest in the property (placed a bid) will be created and those applicants who meet the Local Connection criteria will be prioritised in this shortlist.  After conducting initial verification checks, the applicant who is in highest housing need, (or whose effective date is earlier if there is more than one applicant with the same level of need) to Soha housing. Soha will contact the applicant to verify their application and check that the property is suitable for their needs. With the applicant’s permission they will also inform HNCLT of the applicant’s name and evidence of Local Connection so that HNCLT can be satisfied that the Local Connection criteria is being met. No other personal information will be shared in accordance with the data sharing agreement between Soha and HNLCT.

 

Once the applicant has been assessed by Soha, if successful, they will be offered the tenancy and will become a tenant of Soha housing. Soha will conduct the tenancy sign up and provide all landlord housing management services. 

 

HNCLT will invite each resident to become a member of HNCLT by purchasing a £1 share. This will give voting rights on important decisions of the trust and the opportunity to get involved as a volunteer or become a member of the Board 

5. Allocations Committee

HNCLT will establish an Allocations Committee. 

 

The role of the Allocations Committee will be:

 

  • To ensure residents of Hook Norton, Sibford, Wiggington and Milcombe are aware of the properties and understand the application and allocation process 

  • To check that to the best of their knowledge the Local Connection criteria is being adhered to 

  • To maintain a Register of Interest of local people who are interested in the properties so that they can be kept updated about the scheme

  • To hold a list of people interested in the market sale properties and advise people of the sales process (see The HNCLT Sales Policy) 

 

Impartiality and integrity are a crucial requirement of the members of the Allocations Committee. If any member is related to or has close personal, business or other connections with the applicant, he/she will disclose the information and will not participate in any discussion or decision.

 

The quorum for the Allocations Committee shall be 3 excluding members who have declared a conflict of interest. If the meeting is not quorate it will not proceed. A further meeting will be convened as soon as possible with other HNCLT Board members being co-opted to ensure that there is a quorum at such a re-convened meeting.

6. Confidentiality

HNCLT list of interest and all information provided by applicants will be strictly confidential and will not be shared or discussed with any persons not members of the Allocations Committee at any point apart from HNCLT Board members co-opted onto the Allocations Committee to achieve a quorum (where a conflict of interest has been declared).

 

However, personal confidentiality withstanding, the Allocations Committee is committed to being as transparent as possible in how allocations are being carried out.

  1. Complaints 

 

Complaints about any matter concerning HNCLT including about allocations can be made using the HNCLT complaints policy. It should be noted that complaints may be redirected to Soha housing if they concern an area where Soha has responsibility

 

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