The Conservatives have had a security leak, and another councillor has passed us a document they’ve prepared on affordable housing, written in the style of Conservative Councillor Keith Hudson:
Its a bit hard to read this document, so here’s the full text:
CONSERVATIVE COUNCILLORS DEMAND FAIR PLAY FOR HOME OWNERS
By this Government’s dictat, local councils – District, County and Unitary – are made to provide Social/affordable housing.
We appreciate the need for social and affordable housing, and we understand that it is the Government’s preference that social housing should be threaded in with the regular housing so as not to create a “them and us” situation, A perfectly reasonable point of view!
Now let us consider the “other” man’s point of view and this particular “other man” happens to be the majority of folk in this District and in this Countty, He/she works hard all their lives climbing the property ladder from flat to terraced to semi to detached to mansion; whatever, but it is one of the main drivers that encourage folk to strive for a better life and to achieve. It is a measure of success, not the only measure, but one that is important to most people in this country.
So this hardworking fellow, near to retirement ,, has a lovelay detached house in a lovely street of equally lovely detached houses and a developer acquires “next door”; down it comes and up go the flats, Bad enough, we would say, but now a number of those flats will be for social housing. Not very fair in our opinion; a lifetime of effort sianificantlv marred! “What’s the point in me working so hard to achieve, if the alternative was to have nothing and do little, because it would be given to me by the Government anyway”? Not a good recipe to encourage endeavour!
The Government’s recommendation is; for every site where there can be built 15 or more dwellings, 30% of them shall be “affordable” or “social housing”. The lower the figure the more and smaller sites will fall into the “affordable” housing trap. “Affordable” housing, where the ownership of the property is shared between the occupier and a social landlord seems to be a valid way for our young folk to get that all important first foot on the property ladder, but it surely must not be to the detriment of established communities. We believe the figure should be 25 as recommended in June 2006 not 15; this higher figure will remove the small wedges formed by the acquisition of “next door” from the equation.
The other figure, the percentage, doesn’t really matter; because if the upper figure is too high developers will not build, due to simple economics, Should a developer build a substantial new estate, 25 homes or more, an appropriate quota of affordable housing would be perfectly acceptable, because any buyer going onto that estate will have the choice to buy or not to buy. Just fine; it’s their choice! But it is not fine to have a Iow cost, high density development thrust next door to you when you have absolutely no choice whatsoever and the investment in your home tumbles accordingly, Ladies and gentlemen, we will not buy into that!
Terry Cutmore Peter Webster Keith Hudson
We know that it’s important to have good neighbours. We understand that people don’t want the character of their neighbourhood to change. Nobody wants the value of their home to fall! But what’s happening here is that the issue of the 3700 homes in the district and 1800 in Rayleigh is so unpopular, that the Tories are trying to find an issue to look good on.
As Liberal Democrats , we’d like to respond to the Tory document as follows:
1. The Conservatives have been willing to accept having 1800 houses and flats in Rayleigh without any kind of proper discussion. But their main concern seems to be about 50 or so flats – maybe 5 or 10 per year.
2. In their document, they don’t seem to be worried about whether flats are ugly, cramped or without enough parking – they just don’t want affordable ones in existing roads.
3. After a lot of pressure from the Liberal Democrats, people living next door to proposed developments are now allowed to speak at planning meetings and explain their own point of view – some of the Tories had to almost be dragged kicking and screaming into accepting this.
4. We don’t know about some of the Conservatives, but the Liberal Democrats take their duties with planning applications very seriously. Chris and June Lumley did a very conscientious job in looking at the recent application for flats at Lakeside – in fact the Tory Leader Terry Cutmore said it was an excellent presentation. June and Chris got the application refused because it wasn’t suitable for that site. There were no affordable flats there.
If it’s the wrong place for a group of flats, it’s the wrong place – whether a few of the flats are affordable or not. We would like to protect ‘lovely streets’ from any loss of character.
5. The Conservatives don’t seem to realise that ‘affordable’ flats would be probably built to the same standards as any other flats. The difference is that you might have a young schoolteacher, or someone who grew up in Rayleigh living there, instead of a wealthier outsider. Yes, you might get a yob in an affordable flat – but you could get one in just about any flat or house.
6. The Conservatives say that “We appreciate the need for social and affordable housing”. Actually, we don’t think they do. One of them was overheard to say, “If you can’t afford to live in Rayleigh, you shouldn’t do so.” But it’s very sad to see young people who have grown up in this town, who want to still live here, but can’t afford the market cost of a home here. One mother has talked to us about her son, who is a policeman but couldn’t afford to live here.
What we want to see are well-designed homes across the whole district, with the right infrastructure and facilities. That would really be fair play for homeowners