Why is ‘Affordable Housing’ so important and why is it the policy of HDC (HDPF policy 16) that 35 per cent of new developments are ‘Affordable’?
Quite simply the answer is that such properties, being managed by Registered Social Landlords (aka Housing Associations), provide homes for those in most need, i.e. they take people off the housing register. As hardly any council houses are built these days, there is a dire shortfall of such homes, especially so in Horsham District.
In the North of Horsham massive development of 2,750 homes, the current offer by Liberty Property Trust is to build only 18 per cent ‘Affordable’ homes, citing ‘viability issues’ for achieving just half of the target.
Yet the developers and landowners plan to jointly take a whopping £0.25 billion profit out of an almost £1 billion project. That’s a staggering 25 per cent of the overall sales income being ‘creamed-off’.
Additionally Liberty proposes 12 per cent as ‘Other’ housing tenures (mainly Discount Market Sales-DMS and Private Rented Sector-PRS), with the remaining 70 per cent being ‘market homes for sale’.
They then aggregate the 18 per cent ‘Affordable’ and 12 per cent ‘Other’ to declare that they are providing 30 per cent ‘Housing for Local Needs (HFLN)’ in the forlorn hope that the public will be duped and consider this acceptably close to the 35 per cent HDPF target.
But we aren’t that stupid! Even the HDC Housing Manager confirms that these additional categories (DMS and PRS) do not satisfy the housing requirements of those in greatest need and do not assist in removing people from the housing register.
So they aren’t ‘Affordable’, doh!
At last Friday’s planning meeting, when I heard HDC’s Director of Planning make these ‘statements’, supportive of the Liberty obfuscation, I was astonished:
‘The Government White Paper has changed the definition of Affordable Housing’. Not true, it has proposed a change that is currently out for consultation.
‘The 30 per cent Liberty offer of HFLN would meet what the Government are now proposing as Affordable Housing’. Again, not true as DMS would need to have a minimum 20 per cent discount whereas the Liberty offer is for 15 per cent. Also the PRS would only count as affordable if rents were to be at least 20 per cent less than the market. There is no indication that any of the PRS would be let at lower than full market rents.
HDPF Policy 16 exists because the analysis of housing need shows that we require 35 per cent of new homes to be built as ’Affordable’ to assist those on the housing register.
Even if the Government tinkers around with this definition, that housing need clearly persists in Horsham District and should be reflected in any subsequent amendment of HDPF policy.
Councillors, please don’t allow excessive developer profits to betray those with the greatest housing need.
Cox Green, Rudgwick
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