LETTER: Failure to deliver affordable homes

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The latest cynical ploy that the Tories running Horsham council have used to persuade Horsham residents of the benefits of their flawed policies, must surely be the most disgraceful, in view of the present housing crisis.

Following the approval of the Horsham District Planning Framework proposed submission, Ray Dawe stated in a County Times article (‘Public to comment on Planning Framework’, 8 May 2014 ), that the Framework would provide the affordable housing ‘which we urgently need’.

In a letter in the same edition Claire Vickers wrote that the approval of the submission moved us ‘a step closer to providing much needed affordable housing for local people’.

The truth is that the Tories have had ample opportunities to deliver affordable housing over recent years but have determinedly refused to pursue them. That is the very reason that we have the present urgent need for affordable housing.

On the basis of recent performance, they are no more likely to commit to delivery of these homes now than they have ever been.

The need for more affordable housing was highlighted by the council when previous large scale developments, such as the one currently being built in the West of Horsham, were proposed.

However, when the developers submitted their planning applications the Tories made no attempt to ensure that these sites provided the housing that would address local need. They willingly accepted the minimal offer of affordable homes which maximised the developers’ profits and ignored the needs of local people.

Not only have the Tories ignored the recommendations of the council’s own core strategy with regard to the delivery of affordable housing on strategic sites, they have allowed developers to ignore section 106 directives on smaller schemes and have turned down perfectly acceptable planning applications for affordable housing developments on spurious grounds.

It seems highly unlikely, therefore, that that the proposed new developments will deliver anything other than the ‘executive homes’ that are currently sprouting up on the outskirts of our town.

Perhaps Mr Dawe and his Tory colleagues are so out of touch with the realities of ordinary people’s lives that they believe that the half million pound asking price of these properties is affordable.

In which case they should be directed to the results of Southern Home Ownership’s survey, which appeared in the same edition of the County Times. This survey showed that 77 percent of would-be first time buyers in our district cannot afford to buy a home locally at current prices.

If Mr Dawe believes that the council have suddenly developed a new-found commitment to the delivery of homes for local people rather than profits for developers, he should ensure that a mandatory qualification for planning approval of developments of scale is the provision of 50 percent affordable housing.

Only then will we really be one step closer to achieving the homes that our communities need.

CAROL HAYTON

Horsham Labour Party, Clarence Road, Horsham