Financial viability will be central to the success of the scheme. Andrew Kirby Architects are working on a number of projects, which take an alternative route to delivering local affordable housing on a ‘Not for Profit’ basis. Social Value principles are central to community ownership.

As an example, another affordable housing programme we are working on aims for 75% affordable units and 25% open market. The sites are designed in a balanced way, where no ‘priority’ is given to the open market. They all have the same space standards, design standards, garden sizes and shared green space.

The idea of ‘truly affordable’ housing needs to be understood for Frome as part of this process. The standard model is based on a cross subsidy of open market housing to affordable units but too often this subsidy is reduced or not passed across.  Higher quality, socially and environmentally driven developments are now critical especially for regional market town scenarios. Much more versatility can be introduced using local investor and self build modelling providing higher overall well living and community standards.

The cost of affordable units can be brought down further than the recommended 80% of Open Market Value (OMV), to, say, 60% of OMV. This means units are ‘truly affordable’ in areas of high house prices such as the South Hams where we currently have a project; the average wage is £20K and average house price around £350K.

Other models we are working on are for 100% affordable units, but at 80% of OMV.

The viability work we will do on the Saxonvale site will define the best model and process for Frome. This will be balanced against the infrastructure, remediation costs and environmental aspirations.