Lorton (Allerdale Borough Council)

 

Introduction
Location

The village of Lorton is in the administrative district of Allerdale Borough Council. It lies five miles south of Cockermouth on the B5289. The main town of Workington is eight miles west of the village via the A66. The village is in the Lake District National Park.

Demographics
The village is in the parish of Lorton with a population of about 214 in 132 households. (i)

Case study
The case study in Lorton was on Vale Cottages, a development of two two-bedroom houses and three three-bedroom houses owned by Mitre Housing Association.

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

  • 50% of respondents said that location was important to them.
  • 75% of respondents said that the community spirit was important to them.

2. Services available in the village

  • Lorton is a small village. There is a local pub, village hall, school, shop, church, local groups and country house hotel.

3. School

  • Lorton Primary School is for children aged 4-11.

The details outlined below have been taken from the 1998 OFSTED inspection report.

  • There are 60 children on the school roll.
  • Ability in English is above the national average.

‘Lorton Primary is a very good school with many strengths.
It provides its pupils with firm foundations for the next stage of learning.’

The headteacher said there were more children at the school due to the affordable housing. Most of the residents at Vale Cottages were families.

4. Police and fire

  • The nearest police station to Lorton is in Cockermouth. This station is not staffed 24 hours a day.
  • There is no fire station in Lorton. The nearest is in Cockermouth.

5. Transport
There are at least two buses per day five days a week. The service runs from Lorton to Cockermouth and Buttermere, with a single adult fare of £1.

  • 90% of residents have a car.
  • The nearest train station is Penrith.

6. Local employment
The following information on employment for residents of Lorton was provided by the ward councillor:

  • Hardly any local employment.
  • Residents commute to Cockermouth and Workington.

7. Weekly average incomes
Cumbria Rural Housing Trust’s Rural Housing Strategy details weekly average incomes in Allerdale 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
Allerdale BC£352.00285.00144.00476.00£18,304
*Note: Disposable income = 19% deducted from gross to take into account tax, NI and pension contributions

Employees on an average income would therefore need 5.5 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 local town-based supermarket.

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

Total £8.86 @ Lorton, £5.95 @ Co-op, Cockermouth.

Current housing provision in Lorton
1. Case study-Vale Cottages, Lorton

  • Mitre Housing Association has two two-bedroom houses and three three-bedroom houses.
  • They were completed in 1997.
  • The local authority has 50% nomination rights.
  • The properties are restricted by section 106 agreement.
  • No houses have been lost through Right to Buy.
  • The properties are in Council Tax bands C and D (£1,081.28 and £1,145.57).

Type of accommodation

Rent (per week)Service charge (per week)
3-bed house£62.91£0.49
2-bed house£70.59£0.49
 

2. Other social housing provision

  • Home Housing Association had three three-bedroom houses at Broomcroft.
  • These properties were built in 1955.
  • All these properties have been lost through Right to Buy.


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

Council Band A£763.71
Council Band B£891.00
Council Band C£1,018.28
Council Band D£1,145.57

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

Detached£126,400
Semi-Detached£94,428
Terraced£85,281
Average House Price£95,370

Key statistics

  • 3.5% of properties are rented social housing.
  • 37.5% 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 40 properties in Lorton where the accommodation is not occupied as a main residence. Therefore some 30% of properties in Lorton are non-permanent-residence homes.
  • The ratio of affordable housing to non-permanent-residence homes is 1:10.

1. Case study return rate
There was an 80% response rate from the case-study questionnaire showing:

2. Reasons for residents accepting a tenancy

  • 50% of respondents originated from the village.
  • 25% of respondents had friends and connections with the local school.
  • 25% of respondents had no connections with the village.

3. Employment information

  • 75% of respondents had a full-time worker in their household.
  • 25% of respondents are retired.
  • All respondents had use of a car, so could commute to work if necessary.

Case study planning details: ref no: (7/96/2024)
1. Housing need
The details of the original housing needs survey which supported this application are not available. A housing needs survey was conducted in March 2000 by Cumbria Rural Housing Trust.

Despite the building of these five extra homes, there is still demand from 13 households, including three people who wish to move back to the village.

During the survey people said there was difficulty finding tenants for the previous five houses: residents had to be drawn from outside the area. The question ‘would you object to a small number of new homes, which would help to meet the needs of local people?’ attracted numerous negative comments.

2. Timescale
Application date: 12.02.96
Decision date: various site visits occurred; the last file date appears to be 02.10.96 where the proposal was deferred for further clarification.
Planning permission notice date: 05.03.97

The actual time to receive planning approval was one year from application to the date of the planning notice; this includes any time to acquire
the site and agree the section 106 agreement.

3. Planning policy at the time of development
This site was considered under the exception site policy.

4. Opposition and support to the scheme
The parish council approved the proposals in principle, but ‘would wish to see modifications to access and materials’. The highways department also raised ‘strong concerns about visibility’.

The district council recommended approval of the application despite ‘concerns over this site’.

The application spurred ten letters of support for the proposal, including one from the local vicar. Extracts from some letters read as follows;

‘development of local rented housing for the young people of the district‘,
‘if we don’t get extra housing we will lose the continuation of our village life’.

A 34-name petition was submitted in support from local people and a parish councillor.

There were six letters of opposition, including two from the adjacent owners. The opposition was on the basis of ‘visual intrusion, lack of need, the isolated nature of the site, and the design details of the scheme’.

Importance and impact of affordable housing in Lorton

‘It is essential for the maintenance of local children at the village school.’

  • Affordable housing helped keep families in the area.
  • One response to the suggestion of more affordable housing in the village was: ‘There would be opposition to build any type of housing in the area.’
  • A view that there is very little affordable housing in the village.
  • A view that the affordable housing site was built because of a local need that has now been fulfilled.
  • A view that affordable housing is essential for the maintenance of the village school.
  • There has been no impact on the local businesses (apart from the school) since the affordable housing was built.
  • A view that the rent in the affordable housing site is reasonable.

Parish council views
One finding of a parish council survey was that there were 48 people of 16 years and under living in Lorton. This was felt to dispel the view that Lorton is an ‘elderly’ village.

The findings also revealed that there were 27% of holiday and non-permanent-residence homes in Lorton. This is a high proportion considering the size of the village. In turn this has affected many activities such as neighbourhood watch schemes.

There is a need for affordable housing for young people who want to return to the village. The case-study development has lost four tenants who considered the rent too high.

Conclusion
According to one respondent the mix of people in Lorton has changed over the years. In the 1960s it was still a village of local people and a farming community. Now, increasing house prices and the number of people wanting to retire to the village or buy a second or holiday home have led many residents to regard Lorton as a village for the elderly.

The parish council disagreed. It also expressed a preference for holiday homes rather than second homes as at least these would bring some income into the village. It was also suggested that if there were more housing in Lorton, local demand would not be enough to fill it, suggesting that the original community in Lorton has now left. However, most residents agreed that affordable housing has helped families stay in the village, and therefore Vale Cottages has had a positive effect on the village. Yet residents and parish councillors feel the rents are too high and some feel that there is a need to cater for middle-income households (£15k to £30k) and there should be a shared-ownership option with the properties.

In conclusion, Lorton is still a sustainable community. It appears the main issue affecting the sustainability of the village in the future, however, is an increase in the demand for second homes which is pushing up property prices.

Sources:
i Cumbria County Council 1997 Local Profiles, www.cumbria.gov.uk - Office for National Statistics, Information and Intelligence 1997
ii Land Registry www.landregistry.gov.uk and upmystreet.com