Gosforth (Copeland Borough Council)

 

Introduction
Location

The village of Gosforth is in the administrative district of Copeland Borough Council, 14 miles south of Whitehaven on the A595 in the Lake District National Park.

Demographics
The village is in the parish of Gosforth with a population of about 1,336 people and 522 households.

Case study
The case study in Gosforth was on Hallbeck Place, a development of ten two-bedroom bungalows owned by Home Housing Association.

Profile of the Village
1. Important attributes for residents living in Gosforth

  • The number and variety of services available in Gosforth.
  • 100% of the respondents liked the peace and quiet or the friendly community.
  • 57% liked the peace and quiet and the location in the Lake District National Park and proximity to larger towns, such as Whitehaven.

‘The Lakes’ best kept secret.’

  • 43% of the respondents commented on the friendliness of the community as something they liked about Gosforth.

2. Services available in the village
There are many local services, which are also important for surrounding villages. The community organises activities and events that appear well attended. This also includes activities for the young, e.g. a young farmers club.

  • 100% of the respondents commented that the shop was a very important service to them and was well used. The post office, library and banks were also highly rated.

3. School
The school is a voluntary controlled infant and junior school. It is a mixed school and is for children aged 5 -11 years.
Information about the school has been taken from an OFSTED report in 2002.

OFSTED ‘liked the school but [it] wasn’t as effective as it should be in teaching every subject’.

  • There are 120 on the school roll.
  • The average number of pupils per qualified teacher is 22.
  • The average class size is 24.
  • 24 pupils are registered as having special needs.
  • It is very effective in maths, science and design and technology.
  • There is underachievement in English.
  • The quality of teaching ranges from satisfactory to good.
  • The curriculum is of a good range and quality.
  • The nearest secondary school is in Egremont.
  • There is an independent secondary school in Gosforth, which also runs a nursery, primary and junior school.
  • There is a nursery school, parent-and-toddler group and a registered childminder.

4. Police and fire

  • The village has been allocated a community police officer but the officer has moved to Millom (20 miles south), which can make things difficult.
  • The nearest police station is in Egremont (0900 - 16.30).
  • The nearest fire station is in Seascale, and is staffed part-time.

5. Transport

  • There is a bus service at least twice a day, 5 days a week.
  • 89% of the respondents had one car or more.
  • The nearest train station is Seascale (3 miles).
  • There is a community transport system.

6. Local employment

  • Gosforth’s main employer is the nuclear processing plant at Sellafield.

‘It is a Sellafield village.’

7. Weekly average incomes
Cumbria Rural Housing Trust’s Rural Housing Strategy details weekly average incomes in Copeland based on an average of figures available from Cumbria County Council, New Earnings Survey and the Office of National Statistics. Averages were used as figures varied greatly: this information should therefore be used only for illustrative purposes.

District

Gross Weekly IncomeWeekly IncomeLow PayHigh PayAverage annual Salary
Copeland BC£440.50256.80200.00621.00£23,000
*Note: Disposable income = 19% deducted from gross to take into account tax, NI and pension contributions

Employees on an average income would therefore need 3.5 times their annual salary to buy an average-priced house on the open market.

8. The cost of a bag of shopping
Compared with a nearby town-based supermarket.

  • Bread
  • Milk 1 pint
  • Eggs (6)
  • Beans (435g)
  • Tea (80-100bags)
  • Coffee (100g)
  • Toilet Rolls (4)
  • Butter (250g)

Total £7.75 @ Gosforth, £5.95 @ Co-op, Cockermouth.

Current housing provision in Gosforth
1. Case study - Hallbeck Place, Gosforth

  • Home Housing Association has ten two-bedroom bungalows.
  • They were completed in 1992.
  • None of the properties has been lost through Right to Buy.
  • The properties are not restricted by any local occupancy clauses.
  • Nominations are accepted from Copeland Borough Council.
  • The properties are Council Tax band C (£1,056.01).

Type of accommodation

Rent (per week)Service charge (per week)
2-bed houses£62.34Included
 

2. Other social housing provision

  • Home Housing Association owns three houses built in 1976. The rent is £54.19.
  • Home Housing also owns six timber houses built in 1948.
  • A total of four properties have been lost through Right to Buy.

3. Council Tax banding
The Council Tax bandings for Gosforth are:

Council Band A£792.01
Council Band B£924.01
Council Band C£1,056.01

4. Housing market (Jan-March 2003) (i)

Detached£125,681
Semi-Detached£46,940
Terraced£62,257
Flatno data
Average House Price£84,931

Key statistics

  • 3% of properties are rented social housing.
  • 17% of social landlord stock has been lost in the village through the Right to Buy. This figure includes social landlord stock where the Right to Acquire does not apply.
  • The 1991 census records a total of 20 properties where the accommodation is not used as a main residence or 4% of total housing stock.
  • Four properties have been lost through the Right to Buy and six forestry houses have also been lost into the open market.
  • The ratio of affordable housing to non-permanent-residence homes is 1:1.

1. Case study return rate
There was a 30% response rate from the case-study questionnaire showing:

2. Reasons for residents accepting a tenancy

  • 100% of the respondents were retired or had special needs.
  • 67% of the respondents had family and friends in the village.

3. Employment

  • 100% of the respondents were on disability benefit or were retired.

Case study planning details: ref no: 7/86/4009 outline and 7/86/4072 detailed
1. Housing need
There was no evidence of housing needs data from the time of either planning application. As the project was within the village boundary and part of a larger overall housing development of speculative housing, no needs information was required to justify a planning decision.

2. Timescale
Application date: 30.01.1986 (outline), 14.07.86 (detailed)
Decision date: 04.03.1986 (outline), 06.01.87 (detailed)
Planning permission notice date: 20.03.1986 (outline), 12.01.87 (detailed)

The actual time to receive detailed planning consent was six months, as a result of negotiations regarding general design and density. Despite the outline planning application granting approval for 12 units, negotiations at a detailed stage saw this number being reduced to ten two-bedroom bungalows.

3. Planning policy at the time of development
The site was within the development boundary, directly behind the main street, between the main street and a larger development of private houses.

4. Opposition and support to the scheme
The County highways department had no objection to the proposals provided various construction details could be agreed before construction started.

Both the District and Parish Councils supported the proposals.

Importance and impact of affordable housing in Gosforth
There was a mixed response to the impact and the importance of the affordable housing for the village. Hallbeck Place itself appears to have had a minimal impact but none the less most respondents agreed that affordable housing was needed in Gosforth and was important for its sustainability.

In addition many commented that nationally soaring house prices have affected many residents and there is concern for whether the younger generation would be able to remain in the village. One worker in the village, although he would have liked to live in Gosforth, has had to find accommodation in Seascale. One respondent was also disappointed that a local caravan park has limited its occupants to the over 50s as this will be of no benefit to the young who are currently facing a housing problem.

Some comments regarding affordable housing:

  • No more need and no more available space.
  • An allowance for starter homes would help.
  • Good idea as we need a mix of property types in every village to cater for every need.
  • Housing is beginning to rise in price and become expensive.
  • Not enough affordable starter homes to buy rather than rent.

Parish council views
The Parish Council generally agreed with the comments about the impact of affordable housing. They believed there is a need for two-, three-and four-bedroom properties to rent. They contend that there is space for more housing in the village but often find that the development restrictions imposed by the National Park Authority do not serve the best interests of the village, particularly where young people are wishing to settle down.

They also comment on the way vacancies are not locally advertised. This causes problems since there is evidence that if people put their name on a list they will not be offered a house in the village of their choice. In addition, if they turn this down, there is evidence that they will go to the bottom of the list. This is making more people reluctant to put their name forward.

They do agree that some residents are being forced to buy/rent at Seascale due to lower property prices and consider that there is a need for different schemes, such as a shared ownership scheme.

Conclusion
At present Gosforth is a sustainable working community without many serious housing issues, unlike in other parts of Cumbria. The services are well utilised by the local residents and those in surrounding hamlets. There are high school rolls and local employment is available.

The affordable housing in Gosforth was accepted as a necessary part of their village, and for its residents it meant living near family and being close to services and amenities. These services, as in Shap, were very important to Gosforth residents. As one resident remarked, it ‘is a village with a town mentality’.

Concerns were expressed about the future, namely that many of the young were going away to university and not returning. In addition, in keeping with the national and regional trend, house prices are on the rise and this could cause future problems. One local employee has experienced this and is now living in Seascale and commuting in, but would prefer to live in Gosforth. At present the need for housing is not desperate, and this has been supported by Home Housing Association who spoke of difficulties re-letting since demand was not high. However, there may be a time when affordable housing is a necessity if the community is to continue being sustainable and well balanced.

Sources:
i Land Registry www.landregistry.gov.uk and upmystreet.com