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Push for more affordable homes along Pembrokeshire Coast

Words: Sam Waddicor

Building new homes in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park could become easier if proposed guidance from the National Park Authority (NPA) comes into effect.

The guidance, which discusses social housing grants, self-build plots and more flexible planning rules, has been prompted by concerns that local people are being priced out of the property market because of low earnings and low affordable housing numbers.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the average wage in Pembrokeshire was just under £20,000 in 2012, compared with the Welsh average of nearly £22,500 and the British average of £27,000. Meanwhile, the NPA, in its April 2014 report, found that only 21 out of 289 homes to have been built in the NPA area between 2007 and 2013 were affordable. The target for housing in the area says that 35 affordable dwellings need to be built in the park per year.

The draft guidance discusses the possibility of subsidies from the Welsh government in the form of social housing grants and considers whether to ask developers to make plots available for self-build projects. It also discusses encouraging planners to be more flexible on issues such as site design and the ratio of affordable to full-cost housing.

The National Park Authority’s head of park direction, Martina Dunne, said: "What we are proposing in the current economic climate is a more flexible and streamlined system to help meet local housing need but which also allows room for negotiations with developers and landowners about affordable housing contributions."

The new guidance was discussed by the National Park Authority at a meeting in Tenby on 11 June. If approved, it could be implemented on 1 July and reviewed after three months' public consultation.