Just called this in …

APPLN. NO: 15/01070/DOV
Ward. Milton
Officer: Amanda Rogers
Date Valid. 26 June 2015

MODIFICATION OF PLANNING OBLIGATION (SECTION 106 AGREEMENT) DATED 17/04/2014 PURSUANT TO APPLICATION 13/00438/FULM ALLOWED ON APPEAL DATED 17/12/14 TO REMOVE THE REQUIREMENT TO PROVIDE AFFORDABLE HOUSING

BRITISH HEART FOUNDATION 3 – 5 HIGH STREET SOUTHEND-ON-SEA

I think we have to insist on the affordable housing element; in my opinion there is a desperate need for this across the borough.

The housing crisis in five short sentences

In 2013 there were 3.35 million young people aged between 20 and 34 living with their parents – an increase of 470,000 since 2010.

If this rate of growth continues then 4.9 million young people will be living with their parents by 2020.

The average age of a first-time buyer is 30 and the average age of unassisted first-time buyer is 33.

It would take a low to middle income household 22 years to save for a typical first time buyer deposit, assuming they saved 5 per cent of their income a year.

Over 1.3 million families with children are now part of “Generation Rent”, with little security and the risk of being forced to move at short notice.

Crisis, what crisis? (House building in the UK)

When I am challenged about assertions I have made I try to research and find out whether I have made incorrect statements or not.

So, I made a claim about house building and the new lows reached under the current Conservative and Liberal Democrat government. If anything, I may have somewhat understated the scale of the problem.

The House Builders Federation has some handy stats. I quote ….

• In 2012/13 England had one of the lowest house building rates since 1923 – there were just 108,190 completions.
• Affordability has plummeted – in the last 40 years the average house price to salary ratio has almost doubled; the price of the average home purchased is now almost 7x the average annual salary of the buyer.
• First time buyers are at record lows. Eight out of ten first-time buyers require financial help from family or friends, and the average age of unassisted first-time buyers has soared.
• Close to a fifth of women and a third of men aged between 20 and 34 are still living at home.
• Social Housing Waiting Lists have almost doubled in the last 10 years to 1.85 million households; around 5 million people are waiting for a home.
• 76,000 children live in temporary accommodation and 250,000 families in social housing are in over-crowded accommodation.

And here is a handy graphic which neatly shows the story of housing building over the last four decades.

House building numbers - UK, 1970 - 2013

And for those who prefer numbers …

Year Houses built in the UK
1970 378320
1971 362230
1972 364480
1973 330940
1974 304640
1975 279580
1976 321940
1977 324770
1978 314090
1979 288600
1980 251820
1981 241990
1982 206570
1983 182820
1984 208900
1985 220270
1986 207570
1987 215510
1988 226230
1989 242360
1990 221520
1991 197210
1992 191250
1993 178420
1994 186850
1995 195580
1996 197710
1997 185940
1998 190760
1999 178290
2000 184010
2001 175370
2002 174200
2003 193210
2004 190590
2005 206620
2006 214000
2007 219070
2008 218530
2009 178780
2010 152950
2011 137400
2012 145910
2013 135117

I agree with the NHF – the Tory proposals for the extension of the Right To Buy are wrong

I have had a briefing from the National Housing Federation. They write regarding the Conservative Party manifesto and its inclusion of a commitment to an extension of the Right to Buy to tenants living in housing association properties. The NHF is unhappy about this, and so am I.

Their website is worth checking out.

The headlines from the briefing:

The Conservative Party has pledged in their manifesto to extend Right to Buy to housing associations. This would mean tenants living in a housing association home could buy these properties at a discount of between 35% and 70% (up to a maximum of over £77,000 outside London and over £102,000 in the capital). To pay for the extension a Conservative government would force councils to sell off high value homes.

This country currently needs 245,000 homes a year just to keep up with demand, 80,000 of which need to be affordable homes. We are currently building around half that number. Proposals like these, which would reduce the overall affordable housing supply and are not the most effective way of targeting public money, will deepen the crisis further.

1. It would reduce the overall supply of affordable homes
2. The policy is unfair to people not living in housing association homes and taxpayer’ money could be better targeted at ending the housing crisis
3. There are better ways to help people into home ownership
4. The ambition of housing associations would be constrained
5. The independence of housing associations would be undermined

Housing and more affordable homes for first-time buyers

It ought to be crystal clear to every politico in the urban paradise that occasionally is Southend-on-Sea, that this town is in desperate need of affordable housing. This manifests itself in a number of ways – youngsters still at home, families overcrowded, aspirant home-owners trapped in expensive rental agreements.

Homebuilding would also be a driver for employment for the local builders and craftsmen who assemble and furnish these new homes.

Recent announcements by Ed Miliband are welcome news; to remind readers, these have included giving local communities power to build where people want to live, enabling councils to plan properly for homebuilding, and giving access rights to first time buyers.

This Government has a frankly terrible record on home ownership and house-building, including the lowest levels of house-building in 90 years and home ownership levels at their lowest in 30 years. Those houses available are too expensive for young families, pushing back the age at which people can own their first property. Our children face a grim future unless the housing market is made to work for them.

I applaud the Labour commitment to build 200,000 homes a year by 2020. I also applaud the aspiration to see the number of first-time buyers doubled by 2025. I was in my twenties when I first owned my home – and I wish this for all in their twenties, in Southend and in the rest of the country.

Concerns that the new hospice build may be delayed

The proposed re-development of the former Ekco factory site has much to recommend it. It is a brown-field site and the proposals are for housing (including a good mix of social and affordable homes), some offices, and a new home for Fair Havens.

Southend West Labour Parliamentary Candidate, Julian Ware-Lane, is concerned that objections could lead to delays in building the homes and the new hospice. Fair Havens cannot progress
their project unless the landowner can get permission for the development as a whole.

Homes have to be built somewhere, and if not here then perhaps Southend West’s Conservatives, who are leading the objections, can suggest where.

The Ekco site is a brown-field site, and this is what we should be using, whenever possible, for new housing. Of course new homes mean more cars, and I can understand why those near the development might be concerned. But we have a housing shortage and this does seem an ideal site. I do understand the concerns of locals including those of the Thornford Action Group, but tackling the housing crisis sometimes means making some tough decisions.

Fair Havens originally wanted to build on the greenbelt in Leigh, but pressure brought by campaigners, including Julian Ware-Lane, meant that these plans were abandoned. Julian on a visit to the Chalkwell Avenue site suggested to Fair Havens that they look at the Ekco site, and he is delighted that this looks likely to be their new home. However, objections could introduce delay.

Fair Havens do sterling work in looking after people in the final chapter of their lives. My mother was one of their patients. The facility in Chalkwell Avenue is no longer big enough and a new home is desperately needed.

Building new council homes – the how

Nigel Holdcroft has written about the planned New council housing for the borough of Southend-on-Sea. As can be imagined, he is somewhat cynical.

This has prompted me to do a bit of digging, and lo – look what I found announce in January of this year – Government launches an independent review into how more social homes can be built.

(Need I remind Nigel of the particular colour of the Government?)

Anyway, it is worth quoting from this announcement:

An independent and wide-ranging review into how more social homes can be built has been launched by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, and the Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, today (Thursday 30 January).

This review will assess if councils are making sufficient use of their existing powers and flexibilities to deliver new social housing. For instance, councils could use their property portfolio more effectively to finance housebuilding by selling expensive vacant properties and using the receipts to build new affordable homes.

The review will also consider how councils can work more closely with housing associations, housebuilders and businesses to build more new homes.

The chairs of the review will also ensure that it gives adequate consideration to new freedoms and flexibilities which could be given to councils to deliver new social housing.

The government has untied the hands of councils through unprecedented reforms to the system for council house finance. Local authorities can now keep their rental income, in return for taking more responsibility for their housing businesses. At last year’s Autumn Statement this freedom was extended by inviting councils to bid for a share of £300 million of extra borrowing to build 10,000 new affordable homes.

Whilst this may not answer all of Nigel’s concerns, it does show that there may be solutions out there.

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