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Residents' opinions about new local housing

Proposals for new housing in a large rural village had recently been approved by Shropshire council; however details about the number of homes and the size or scale of the development had yet to be approved by county planners. Some residents had objected to the plans, with a number of villagers signing a petition against the proposal, also the local parish council were opposed to the site being developed, stating that the village had already filled its housing quota.

Key benefits:

  • Determined the level of support for new housing within the parish.
  • Identified most residents believed affordable housing for local people was required.
  • Recognised need to inform residents of potential locations and property types.
  • Discovered need to allay fears of a weak village infrastructure to help increase support.

Our Assigment

NEMS were appointed by a national planning consultant who together with a housing developer, wished to understand local housing needs and determine resident’s opinions on the proposed new housing within the parish.
The precise number of homes and their design would be the subject of a future application to the council, therefore the developer sought to discover the different type, size and location of properties preferred by residents. They also appreciated that certain residents may have concerns, so they wanted to identify these together with resident’s priorities regarding the development.
Our client wished to speak to as many local residents as possible, with a proviso of a minimum of 200 interviews.
Key objectives were:

  • Assess local housing needs
  • Understand resident’s priorities and concerns
  • Identify potential obstacles to the planning application
  • Determine the level of support

Results

A total of 279 interviews were completed (228 telephone & 51 face-to-face).

  • Half of respondents (51%) were in favour of new housing being built within Highley.
  • A third of respondents were against new housing, with 16% undecided.
  • Two thirds of respondents (68%) stated that affordable housing for local people was needed, with half or more stating housing for the young and the elderly was also needed.
  • The most important information regarding the development was the location in which new houses would be built and what type of houses they would be.
  • Of most concern to local residents was the ability of local infrastructure to cope with new houses being built within the village.
  • Nearly three quarters (73%) stated they would welcome a developer contribution, with facilities for young people being the most popular resource residents would like to see benefit.

Benefits

  • Affordable housing for local people and housing for the young and old were most needed.
  • Knowing the location and type of houses were paramount.
  • A village infrastructure assessment should be carried out (or released if already produced as part of the planning process) to confirm the ability of the village to support new housing and therefore allaying residents’ fears.
  • More residents are for new housing than against, however work is needed to persuade those slightly against and those undecided as to the potential benefits of the new development.

Our Approach

A housing survey such as this could be completed via three different methodologies:

  • Face-to-face (either through in-street or door-to-door).
  • Self-completion (either via postal questionnaires or online).
  • Telephone interviewing.
Apart from obtaining high-quality and correct data within the specific survey zone of the village parish, our client also wanted the data as soon as possible and within a specific budget. Therefore we decided to use telephone interviewing as it was most cost-effective and would produce the data within the shortest time period. However on producing the telephone sample an issue came to light; the sample had a relatively low number of telephone numbers making a conservative estimation of only 100 interviews achievable. We therefore needed dual methodology to enable us to achieve the overall target of 200 interviews.
To keep within time constraints we decided to also offer a face-to-face methodology via door-to-door interviewing. This could be started as soon as our telephone interviewing had completed. Before starting each door-to-door interview the respondent had to confirm that they had not taken part in a telephone survey regarding housing within the last few weeks; this was to ensure that there were no duplicate interviews.
Half-way through telephone interviewing it became clear that our conversion rate was much higher than expected. This was partly due to our interviewers showing high degrees of skill and aptitude in converting potential respondents into interviews, but it was also because of a high level of local interest and knowledge on the survey subject matter and therefore a willingness of respondents to be involved in the research. With this higher-than-expected conversion rate we reduced the number of door-to-door interviews needed to 50.
As the telephone interviewing progressed towards its end-date its conversion rate increased, so once the sample was exhausted we had achieved a higher-than-expected figure of 228 interviews. This figure was above the minimum required, however since our client wished to speak to as many residents as possible, and since our in-street interviewers had already been booked to carry out the door-to-door interviewing; we decided to proceed with the face-to-face interviewing.

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NEMS Market Research Limited. Company registered in England no. 393 8078 Telephone: 01642 373355 Email: advice@nemsmr.co.uk