LETTER: No impact on housing crisis

Your letters
Your letters

When they first told us of their plans for the North Horsham development, Liberty Property Trust assured Horsham residents that a key benefit would be the increased supply of the affordable housing that our district desperately needs.

How disappointing, therefore, to learn that their proposal undertakes to deliver a maximum of only 30 per cent affordable homes. This rate of provision will make no impact at all on our housing crisis.

Legislation recently introduced by the government has redefined affordable housing as it applies in planning terms. This definition now includes new build starter homes, for sale at discounted market rates.

The legislation also requires local planning authorities to ensure that developments include 20 per cent of these starter homes. In areas with an overheated housing market and high prices, like Horsham, these starter homes are far from affordable to local people.

Their inclusion in the affordable housing quota means, therefore, that the opportunity to deliver genuinely affordable housing through the planning system is significantly reduced.

For example, if Horsham District Council approves Liberty Property Trust’s current proposal, of the 2,750 homes proposed only ten per cent, at most, will be affordable. This is simply not good enough.

Horsham Labour Party has consistently called upon our Tory-led council to deliver more homes for local people. Time and time again we have raised our concern about the housing crisis in our district. The councillors have failed to acknowledge our concerns.

As a result matters have got steadily worse. Research carried out by the National Housing Federation has now identified Horsham as one of the two rural local authorities in England where property prices are the most relatively expensive.

The National Housing Federation’s Research shows that in Horsham District the gross annual income in the lower quartile is £19,178.00. This is below the national average. House prices in the lower quartile are £240,000, almost twice the national average and 12.7 times the lower quartile income.

The National Housing Federation says that as a result of the lack of affordable housing, our communities are ‘silently suffering’. This suffering will only increase if we fail to provide homes for those in the low income jobs on which our communities depend.

The council has the opportunity to ensure that the Liberty Property Trust development could deliver a lifeline to our community. It has the chance to ensure that this development provides genuinely affordable homes that help to alleviate our housing crisis.

We call upon the council to hold this developer to their original promise to deliver the genuinely affordable homes we need. This is, after all, the only real benefit that can be derived for our community from development on this scale.

If the developers are not prepared to deliver more affordable homes the planning application should be rejected.

Carol Hayton

Horsham Labour Party, Clarence Road, Horsham

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