HOUSING | House Sizes


4.2.1    It is important that the SWNP plans for the right size, type, tenure and range of housing that is required in the parish.


4.2.3    A significant proportion of existing housing stock at the 2011 Census was of detached and semi-detached family houses. The Census registered 57% detached or semi-detached properties, 23% terraced houses and 20% flats/maisonettes.

4.2.4    Recent development (going back to slightly before the Census in 2011) in Saffron Walden has been heavily weighted towards larger properties particularly in the open market category. The newest developments have been constructed as follows:

Open Market Housing:

1 bed.

2 bed.

3 bed.

4 bed.

5 bed.








Affordable Housing (combining affordable rent and shared ownership)[2]:

1 bed.

2 bed.

3 bed.

4 bed.

5 bed.








Source: Developer plans and Uttlesford District Council Housing Department

[2] Note that a care home was provided as part of an affordable housing contribution, not included in these numbers due to the specialist nature of the dwelling.

4.2.5    Many smaller homes in Saffron Walden have been extended, as it can be cheaper and more convenient to extend a home rather than move. This has further reduced the stock of smaller homes. 


4.2.6    Public surveys and consultations for the SWNP always show a demand for “smaller” and “more affordable” homes. In order to test whether the survey results show a true picture of demand, the SWNP looked at the local authority evidence base to assess demand for affordable housing, and private sector market data to assess demand for open market homes.

4.2.7    The local authority housing waiting list shows that social housing need is highest for 1, then 2, then 3, then 4 bedroom houses.

The local authority housing waiting list in Uttlesford is as follows (as at 23/07/2018)[3]:

1 bed.

2 bed.

3 bed.

4 bed.

5 bed.








Source: Uttlesford District Council Housing Department

[3] Households classed as in housing need bands A-D (i.e. not including band E)

4.2.8    Local Housing Allowance (LHA) (housing benefit) is assessed and paid at a rate which depends on the household size. Around half the people eligible for housing benefit are in work, but do not earn enough to afford rent without subsidy. Around half the people in employment and in receipt of LHA qualify for a two-bedroom rate, while almost all the people out of work and qualifying for LHA receive a one-bedroom rate. 

The number of people in Uttlesford in receipt of LHA is as follows (as at 07/03/2019):

Employment Status

1 bed.

2 bed.

3 bed.

4 bed.

5 bed.













Source: Uttlesford District Council Housing Department

4.2.9    Noting that people in receipt of LHA should be no different to people not in receipt of LHA, other than the fact that they have lower household incomes, this data clearly shows by a considerable margin that the dominant household sizes in Uttlesford, where the household is counted as employed, require 2 or 3 bedrooms.

4.2.10  To assess private sector demand, a bespoke data research project was commissioned from Rightmove, which was asked to provide data on what sizes of property were being searched for, and where the search originated; whether it was inside or outside the town of Saffron Walden itself. The data is from searches which resulted in actual enquiries to estate agents, in order to eliminate any potential skew caused by idle browsing. The data covered the 12 months to 31st March 2019.

4.2.11  The Rightmove figures show that prospective buyers from outside the area greatly outnumber prospective buyers from within the area, with 96.5% of the searches coming from outside compared to 3.4% coming from within Saffron Walden.

Enquiries through Rightmove ranked by percentage of searches (note that this adds up to 99.9% through rounding):

House size

Percentage of searches leading to enquiry with estate agent

Origin of the search (identified by IP address of searcher)


2 bed


Outside Saffron Walden

3 bed


Outside Saffron Walden

4 bed


Outside Saffron Walden

5 bed


Outside Saffron Walden

1 bed


Outside Saffron Walden

3 bed


Within Saffron Walden

2 bed


Within Saffron Walden

1 bed, 4 bed, 5 bed

0.3% each

Within Saffron Walden

4.2.12  The figures also show that 66.9% of searches are for 2 or 3 bedroom homes, while 29.5% of searches are for 4 or 5 bedroom homes. This means that recent housebuilding, in which roughly 219 2 and 3 bedroom houses have been built, compared to 212 4 and 5 bedroom houses, is out of kilter with the market demand.

4.2.13  This is backed up by the indexed demand statistics, which further break down demand between houses and flats, as follows:

Indexed demand through Rightmove, as measured by email enquiries over 12 months

Property enquiries from lowest to highest measured as demand relative to supply

  • 2 Bedroom house 0       (highest demand relative to supply)
  • 3 Bedroom house 7
  • 4 Bedroom house 2
  • 5 Bedroom house 1
  • 2 Bedroom flat 0
  • 1 Bedroom flat 8
  • 3 Bedroom flat 0       (lowest demand relative to supply)


This research shows that in Saffron Walden, houses are more in demand than flats. 2 bedroom houses on the market receive twice as many enquiries as 2 bedroom flats, and almost twice as many enquires as the next most sought after sized property, which is a 3 bedroom house.

4.2.14  This ‘heat map’ produced by Rightmove shows that the M11 corridor from inside London and up to Cambridge is the origin of most enquiries. The “house” icon is Saffron Walden.

4.2.15  This migratory trend is confirmed and identified in the UDC 2015 Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), which notes that larger houses tend to be sold to newcomers to the area, and that they have higher buying power than existing residents. The recent trend therefore has been for larger houses to be built to satisfy this market segment. Therefore, despite the market demanding far more 2 and 3 bedroom houses than 4 and 5 bedroom houses, developers have been able to sell 4 and 5 bedroom houses by marketing them widely. Thus the 2015 SHMA (and associated policy in the eLP) is based on the ability of developers to sell homes of a particular size, rather than being an assessment and reflection of market demand.

4.2.16  While the overall supply of dwellings in Saffron Walden has increased since the 2011 Census, the skew towards larger homes has meant that the provision has not satisfied demand, local or otherwise, and it has not satisfied the immediate needs for housing across all ages and incomes. Neither has it taken into account future trends including an aging population or the generally shrinking population per household. 

4.2.17  Housing need in Uttlesford has been set out in the 2015 UDC Strategic Environmental Assessment [4]. The data in the assessment confirms the Rightmove research. This table is copied from page 14 of the Assessment:

Table 15: Size mix of housing requirement, 2007 – 2021:

All Housing  

1 bedroom



2 bedroom



3 bedroom



4 bedroom



5+ bedroom







[4] Place Services: Uttlesford District Council Local Plan Sustainability Appraisal and Strategic Environmental Assessment Scoping Report: Annex B – Baseline Information July 2015 (page 14)

4.2.18  The Neighbourhood Plan seeks to ensure that Saffron Walden can accommodate a diverse range of age groups and types of households, and that it can retain second generations of residents. Over the plan period, the SWNP seeks to rebalance the supply of housing towards smaller homes, in line with local demand, which is in itself in line with national trends.

4.2.19  Development is irreversible and the SWNP wishes to ensure that best possible use of land is achieved to support the future sustainability of the parish. Open land has a social, economic and environmental value, and this value should only be lost to development if on balance the benefits of the development outweigh the benefits of the open land. If the type of development required by the planning policies is not immediately deemed viable then it is preferable to pause development rather than to continue with inappropriate development. Inappropriate development uses up valuable land to the long-term detriment of the parish.


1.  All residential development proposals should include a mix of sizes which reflects local needs but also provides for balanced and vibrant neighbourhoods. Unless supported by more up-to-date local evidence of need, market homes in developments of 10 or more homes will consist of:

i)    Up to 10% 1 bedroom homes

ii)   At least 30% 2 bedroom homes

iii)   At least 30% 3 bedroom homes

iv)   Up to 20% 4 or more bedroom homes

v)   With a 10% flexibility allowance that can be added to any of the above categories taking account of local circumstances.

2.  For developments solely comprising flats, a significant proportion should be 1 and 2 bedroom flats.

3.  The mix of market homes in developments of 9 or fewer homes will take account of local circumstances and the nature of the surrounding area.

4.  The housing mix of affordable homes is to be determined by local housing need and policies set out by the planning authority.

5.  Developments may not be subdivided into smaller parcels to avoid the housing mix policy.

This policy supports the Neighbourhood Plan Objectives 1,2,3,5


Please use the relevant section numbers as reference markers when writing your comments.

2 Responses

  1. I agree with this mix for new developments. Saffron Walden is an affluent town and developers would, I am sure to maximise their profits, focus solely on larger properties. This mix appears to meet the need. I would only add that the social housing with is clearly much needed should be spread around on developments rather than built in clusters.

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Neighbourhood Plan Objectives

Objective 1

Saffron Walden will be an economically active and self-sustaining town, offering equal opportunities to all.

Objective 2

Saffron Walden’s residents will be able to live as healthily as possible.

Objective 3

Saffron Walden will be an environmentally sustainable town.

Objective 4

Saffron Walden’s heritage assets, high quality landscape and conservation areas will be protected or enhanced.

Objective 5

Saffron Walden will retain its market-town feel and community spirit.


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