Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Identifying housing 'need' in the West Country

There have been questions raised about how many houses are 'needed' - which is largely about how many 'affordable' houses are being built:
Futures Forum: Identifying housing 'need'

Meanwhile, in Feniton, the new houses being built are not exactly about 'affordability':
Developer must install tanks to stop flood water in Feniton | Western Morning News

Rather, it seems to be about 'business' - with the District Council leading by example - as the comment below indicates:

Feniton features on the One Show - at 7pm tonight!

Monday, 20 October 2014 2 Comments by Claire

Some of you may be aware that Feniton has been having real trouble with appalling behaviour from Wainhomes, which has so far not bothered (and seemed until Friday, to have no intention of) complying with planning conditions attached to its 50 houses allowed on appeal in 2012 - and installing flood alleviation tanks.

Unbelievably, it seems that Wainhomes couldn’t give a fig about their moral responsibilities, let alone their legal obligations and are happy to let the residents of Feniton flood.

But they didn’t bargain on the wrath of Cllr Susie Bond and Feniton Parish Council! And EDDC have reacted assertively…..

Anyway, don’t miss the One Show at 7pm, where you will see Susie and other residents explaining just how disgraceful Wainhomes behaviour really is.

Let’s hope this national and very bad publicity shames Wainhomes thoroughly.

Read more on Susie’s blog here - https://susiebond.wordpress.com/author/susiebond/


1. At 07:54 am on 21th Oct Susie M Bond wrote:

Thanks Claire!

The link to the programme is now on iPlayer and the story on Feniton starts at 03:36. It will be available for 4 weeks.

2. At 11:37 am on 21th Oct Chris Wakefield wrote:

Having just watch the One Show clip on Feniton, I really don’t understand why Paul Diviani involves himself in local government. His contribution was simply to agonise and grump about the resource implications of the council getting involved in making Wainhomes keep the promises they made to get planning permission. The neoliberal agenda which has infected public services for the last 30 years (regardless of government colours), could not have a better exemplar. Cllr Diviani believes EDDC is “a business” involved in encouraging other businesses to prosper, and thereby build economic prosperity in the region. That policy position (regardless of its effectiveness) requires the reduction and destruction of what he will call “red tape” and I would call “civil security”, to remove obstructions to the free operation of the market, and that in turn supports a long term Tory agenda of reduction in the size, scope and influence of local authorities - the ‘smaller government’ mantra. No surprise then, at his obvious lack of commitment to sorting Wainhomes out.

I’ve mentioned this before but it will stand repeating. Public Service IS NOT A BUSINESS, and its job is is to guard the public interest, not suborn it to commercial interest. If he can’t understand that, then he might like to consider a rapid, failsafe way to reduce the size of EDDC immediately, at least by one councillor.

Feniton features on the One Show - at 7pm tonight! - Claire Wright

These concerns are widespread in the West Country:

Homes crisis continues as councils in Devon and Cornwall fail to hit affordable housing targets

By Western Morning News | Posted: October 20, 2014

By Phil Goodwin

Councils in the Westcountry have built just 7,500 affordable homes in the past four years, new figures show, despite 50,000 sitting on housing lists.

A total of 204,000 low-cost homes were provided in England since April 2010, according to statistics published by the Department for Communities and Local Government. Cornwall Council saw 2,990 over the period spanned by the Coalition Government – 747 a year - while 4,500 were created across Devon, an average of 1,125 annually.

Local authorities blamed the house-building crash during the recession, which has failed to meet the growing demand for social and affordable housing.

The number of people now sat on the Cornish waiting list for housing on the Homechoice register now stands at 29,095. Taking into account Devon, the total number waiting to be housed is estimated to be around 50,000.

Cornwall Council welcomed the figures, which show it built more than Birmingham – with a population of 1.2million - Wiltshire and a handful of London boroughs.

Cabinet member responsible for housing Geoff Brown said the authority had set a fresh target of 1,000 each year for the next four years. “This year’s completions forecast is for 1,000 and the following year is 1,200 so we are well on track to achieve more than 4,000 units,” he added. “Annual figures from 2009 onwards are inevitably lower to reflect the fact that the recession saw large falls in construction activity which had an impact upon completion rates.”

Plymouth topped the county table, with 1,140 followed by East Devon District Council, where 610 new homes were constructed. Teignbridge managed 490 followed by Torbay at 480 but the rest of the borough and district councils were all below 300. In the South Hams, where would-be home buyers face market dominated by wealthy second-home owners, just 200 were built – less than 50 a year or one every week.

Deputy council leader Michael Hicks, who is also the cabinet member for planning, questioned whether the DCLG numbers were up-to-date and said their records showed 359 over the four years.

Coun Hicks said there was “an enormous resistance” to building in the South Hams. “We have residents who retire from business and come down to live here because it is so nice,” he added. “The interesting thing is what we have done over 12 months is average 45% affordable which is pretty high. We have got a waiting list on Devon Homechoice that is ongoing and stretching away into the future, and you hear the most horrendous stories, but we are not the driver, just the facilitator.”

House-building went into a deep slump following the financial crisis with the number of homes dropping to the lowest level seen since the 1920s.

The sector began to show signs of recovery in 2011 and was followed by initiatives such as the Government's flagship housing reform, the New Homes Bonus (NHB). This promised to match the council tax on new properties for six years, giving councils the freedom to improve facilities in the neighbourhood or spend as they wish.

The Help to Buy mortgage assistance loan scheme has also helped to drive demand for new homes but there remains a profound shortage of homes across Devon and Cornwall, which is blamed for rising prices and rents, that experts feel can only be solved by building more homes.

At the same time, as revealed by the WMN, more than 24,000 homes lie empty in Devon and Cornwall, a third of which have been abandoned for more than six months

Labour says there will be a shortage of two million homes by 2020, equivalent to five cities the size of Birmingham. In response Ed Miliband has said in government he would create New Homes Corporations, which would be run by local authorities and accountable to communities, to create 500,000 new homes.

But Housing Minister Brandon Lewis welcomed the latest figures as a “clear sign” of how the government’s long-term economic plan was working, with new affordable homes being provided “in every corner of the country”.

He said this includes the Government’s Affordable Homes Programme which has already provided 132,000 of the 170,000 homes planned, thanks to £19.5 billion public and private funding being invested. Mr Lewis said that since April 2010, 204,000 new affordable homes have been provided, whilst between 1997 and 2010 the number of social rented housing homes dropped by 420,000.

New figures published last week also show how thousands of social housing tenants who previously were locked out of home ownership are now exercising their Right to Buy thanks to the reinvigorated scheme, he added.

The TUC has said nowhere in the region has house prices that are affordable on a single average wage.

Research in August by the organisation even cities like Plymouth, which traditionally had lower prices, were now out of reach.

Homes crisis continues as councils in Devon and Cornwall fail to hit affordable housing targets | Western Morning News

What is clear that second-homes push up the prices of housing:
Prices 'definitely driven up' by influx of second-homers

This dissatisfaction over the lack of consideration for the 'hardworking local families' - normally favoured by politicians - threatens to make itself felt in the ballot box:
Westcountry rebellion | Western Morning News
Grassroots rebellion over arrogant leadership in Devon and Cornwall | Western Morning News

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