Our consultation process
“Without affordable and sustainable housing the heart will leave the village”
Filming took place outside key locations in the village on Saturday 3 February with the assistance of Oxford Digital Media. Everyone we interviewed about the housing crisis felt strongly that affordability of housing for all ages was crucial: “Without affordable and sustainable housing the heart will leave the village.”
Overwhelming concern was expressed about the negative impact the lack of affordable homes for young and older people would have on the village. People felt that the village could become an area of second homes with young people forced to leave to find somewhere they could afford to live. As one resident commented: “If you want a community to grow, you need to keep young people here.”
Survey and results
“ What’s important to you in the make-up of a good community?”
“ A variety of generations, ages and backgrounds”
In order to gather the views of the community on the needs and opportunities for a small, affordable and sustainable housing project, we teamed up with independent consultants Lemondrizzle https://www.lemondrizzleconsultants.com who helped us to produce a community wide survey in March 2018.
The survey was hand delivered to each household and collected by members of HNLC. It yielded an unusually high return and the results were independently analysed by Lemondrizzle Consultants and showed wide support for the project:
74% of respondents felt that the current housing situation in the village needed addressing.
26% felt that the present housing mix was adequate and the village had already reached capacity and the existing infrastructure would be stretched.
Elements that emerged with strong support included:
Mixed age groups living side by side
Sustainable homes with low running costs
Homes that relate to the existing architecture of Hook Norton
Provision of smaller affordable homes
37 people expressed an interest in living in the homes and contributing to the design process.
Community consultation report
“I am a working adult living with my parents in the village as I am unable to move out due to financing a home on my own. I have lived in Hook Norton all of my life ”
Hook Norton Community Led Housing Project began life as an initiative by Hook Norton Low Carbon (HNLC) a Community Benefit Society formed in 2009. In 20I0 HNLC was awarded grant funding from the Low Carbon Communities Challenge to encourage the community to invest in renewable energy measures. The importance of consultation was established when HNLC asked the community how they would like to see the funding used. The response was an overwhelming need to take control of its own housing provision and provide affordable homes that would be fit for the future.
Hook Norton Parish Council carried out a housing needs survey in 2012 that highlighted a need for smaller affordable homes that would enable local people to afford to stay living in the area. The idea of a community-led housing project with sustainable features that could be delivered through a Community Land Trust was proposed.
HNLC identified a potential site on an unused piece of land in the centre of the village that had become neglected and approached Cherwell District Council who owned the site. They were keen to support the project and work with the community to develop affordable and sustainable homes for those in need with a local connection.
In June 20I9 the Executive Group of CDC approved the decision to transfer ownership of the land to a newly formed Hook Norton Community Land Trust (HNCLT) for an agreed sum that would enable the project to provide homes that would remain affordable in perpetuity.
With sustainability and renewable energy features at the core of the project, Low Carbon Hub in Oxford provided grant funding via the OxFutures programme to carry out community engagement and develop a feasibility study. To implement these features a part time project manager role was created as a job share. Hook Norton CLT was formed in 20I9 to lead the development of the project with members from a range of backgrounds and expertise including members of the community with local knowledge who share a passion for the project.
"If you want a community to grow, you need to keep young people here"
Consultation and design process
An extensive round of community engagement and consultations took place from February 2018 to January 2020, using film and video, surveys and a series of open meetings.
In order to find out directly what people in Hook Norton thought about the need for affordable and sustainable housing we decided to interview members of the community in the street and make a short film of their responses.
“ What’s the dream and what could possibly go wrong?”
Seven consultation meetings were held over a two-year period beginning with two open meetings that were held at different times of the day to include as many people as possible. The community were invited to discuss the possibilities of affordable housing and ideas about what things they felt were important to include on the new development.
People were divided into discussion groups with their neighbours and asked to list the things they valued most about their community as well as everything that could possibly go wrong with the project. Discussing this at an early stage meant that concerns and issues were brought to the surface and openly discussed without conflict.
Vision and design workshops
“ What do we need versus what would we like?”
Through a series of vision and design workshops with the project architects and the group who expressed interest in living in the homes, the needs of the community began to be defined.
Local architectural design team, Charlie Luxton Design (CLD), https://charlieluxtondesign.com were chosen by a tendering process to develop the project and began by asking the question, “What do we need?” in contrast to, “What would we like?”
Many people found the question thought provoking and stimulating and several people decided that they could happily live in a smaller house if there was somewhere for visiting friends and family to stay on site. The provision of self-contained guest bedrooms that could be booked by visitors has been included in the final design.
It became clear that a different way of living was popular, with homes that could be designed to increase social contact and neighbourliness through access to shared spaces and facilities such as communal gardens and allotments.
The idea of a community building began to take shape where people could meet and share activities with the whole village.
A separate consultation for the community building produced some great ideas. A community run café that could be open for most of the day emerged as the most popular and useful, along with a communal laundry and a Library of Things.
The community building could also have a shared greenhouse and growing beds to allow both the residents and the wider community access to a protected growing space. It is hoped that the locally grown produce could be used by the potential café with surplus produce stored in a community fridge.
The provision of workshop space to rent was suggested as no such facility currently exists in the village and many people work from home. Again, this idea has been included in the plans.
Extra drop-in workshop sessions were arranged at weekends at the offices of CLD for those who couldn't make the evening meetings. They were invaluable as small groups could view and comment on the plans in a relaxed and informal way. CLD built a model of the site which made a huge difference as it helped the community to imagine how all of the elements might fit together and everyone enjoyed experimenting with the site layout.
The workshops were creative and lively and the community and the designers collaborated on ideas that informed the design and layout of the site. The members of the community who expressed interest in living in the homes were invited to participate in a survey to vote for the most popular housing design from a choice of three options. Two designs proved equally popular and as the results were so close CLD incorporated both designs into the plans that were submitted for the full planning application.
The sustainability element proved equally important to the community with enthusiasm for renewable energy features, electric vehicles and a shared car club.
The homes combine design and environmental merit and will be built to Passivhaus standard by achieving a high level of air-tightness that will ensure maximum comfort with low running costs and reduced carbon emissions. The houses are positioned on the site to make the most of renewable energy features like solar photo-voltaic panels with an extensive array on each roof and on the community building.
HNCLT is working with Hook Norton Low Carbon and SNRG to install and manage a microgrid for the project, which will provide a decentralised system of locally generated energy and allow the community to be more energy independent and environmentally friendly.
Connectivity sketch - CLD
Key sustainable features include:
Homes built to Passivhaus standard.
Solar PV arrays on each roof with battery storage for surplus energy.
Micro grid providing a system of locally generated energy.
Mechanical ventilation heat recovery (MVHR).
Low embodied energy and CO2 materials.
Carbon offsetting through local tree planting.
Shared growing space and greenhouse.
Electric vehicle charging points and electric bikes.
The project aims to be a replicable example of a carbon positive development and is also striving to have a carbon neutral construction process. It will be using local suppliers and installers and, where possible, establishing links with local colleges to provide construction apprenticeships.
Whole community consultation meeting
HNCLT held its first board meeting in October 20I9. Following approval of the final scheme design, a wider village drop-in session to show the Community Housing Plans to the whole community was organised ahead of the planning submission.
The day-long event was well attended with over 150 people visiting to view and comment on the plans. Charlie Luxton Design and members of the HNCLT were on hand to discuss matters and answer questions. Some visitors came from curiosity, some were interested in living in the homes and some came to express concerns.
One of the main concerns that emerged was that the project could be seen as an enclave within the village so it was a great opportunity to show that the community facilities would be open to the whole village and wider community. People found that the model of the site really helped to put the project in context and were invited to record their comments on sheets of paper, which were hung on a washing line to be easily viewed by everyone.
The decision-making throughout the project has been based on need for the community. The final proposals represent a scheme that represents the community’s wishes, providing housing based on need and facilities for both future residents of the site and for the whole community of Hook Norton.