Housing and planning policy was thrown into somewhat of a turmoil in the latter part of last year and this was due to Conservative government legislation. Thankfully the government have retreated on some of their more extreme ideas. Now we have a Housing White Paper which theoretically says it’s going to tackle the problem of affordable homes. Many organisations don’t think this white paper will achieve an increase in actual affordable homes being built.
The Liberal Democrat group on the District Council continue to put pressure on the controlling Conservative group to do more to provide affordable homes in the district. My colleague Sarah Osborne has two motions before the council meeting this week. One motion asks the council to consider building low-cost modular homes on uncontroversial sites and the other aims to focus the council on under occupied rural dwellings.
The term ‘affordable’ comes from a government definition whereby some developments are required under planning law to build a certain percentage of affordable homes at a discounted price below the market value. They can also provide shared ownership houses where the purchaser, if they qualify, share the value of the house with a housing association.
In my ward, which covers the villages on the western side of the Ouse valley from Piddinghoe towards Lewes and up to Falmer, it is unlikely that there will be much housing development and probably no affordable homes as the National Park plan only allows for a few houses to be built across all of the villages. However outside the National Park there is pressure to build. I don’t think we can solve the housing crisis with just simply leaving development up to ‘market forces.’ If the government is serious about providing homes and getting people off the housing waiting list then they need to support local councils and housing associations in the building of social (council) housing.
I think the following two proposals should seriously be considered if we are to really do something about the housing problem: