Agreeing with the issues already raised around environmental destruction, inadequate infrastructure and sustainability I will use this time to raise the issue of unmet affordable housing demand in Eastleigh of which the emerging plan will once again have little impact.
A recent report by the Halifax showed that the total value of homes in London is now worth more than all the houses of Scotland, Wales and the north of England put together and that this is spilling out into the SE. Over 55s hold 63.3% of this housing wealth and the under 35s just 3.3%. This shows the huge regional and generational inequalities locking young people in the SE out of home ownership.
After Low levels of house building we acknowledge the need to build housing however investment and speculative gain by developers, buy to let landlords and other housing providers, plus potential population movements particularly from London means that there is little indication that increased supply of housing in the SE will have any significant impact on affordability.
Eastleigh particularly has significant unmet demand for affordable housing as shown by its home choice register for socially rented housing. The last local plan was rejected in part because it failed to meet the needs for affordable housing and for it’s reliance on private rental provision to meet this affordable shortfall. Eastleigh Labour believe that exploitative private renting generally fails on affordability, adequate standards and in the provision of long term secure tenancies – essential for families and vulnerable people with regard to schooling and community support.
Of the 35% so called “affordable housing” provided within these developments only a fraction will be for socially rented housing which is where the greatest demand lies and that which is will be based on an affordability rate of 80% of market rents. This is a significant increase in comparison with traditional Council housing whose rents were based on an affordability rate of 25% of income ( roughly 50% of market rents). EBC’s last plan was criticised as “entirely inappropriate” for looking at affordable rents above 30% of income yet it is now considering how an increase to 40% of income will reduce it’s need for affordable homes to 266 households per annum from 439.*1 Eastleigh Labour says you do not reduce affordable need by redefining affordability and we believe that the level of rents already being charged by Eastleigh’s housing associations are forcing more tenants onto housing benefit in the same way as those renting in the private sector.
With all political parties acknowledging the failure of the current housing market particularly around affordability in the SE and increasingly looking at council housing once again to meet the demand for genuinely affordable housing we ask the LibDem controlled EBC to re-think its emerging plan. To stop its reliance on the needs of large corporations and housing associations and to put the needs of local people first. Eastleigh Labour sees this as an opportunity to get it right for the long term - to provide genuinely affordable and quality housing whilst protecting valuable and irreplaceable natural habitat and wildlife for future generations.
Eastleigh Labour Party’s proposals are as follows
- All significant developments to provide more than 40% quality council housing - promoting new technologies for carbon reduction.
- To stop exploitative practices by developers such as unregulated and uncapped maintenance fees on private “unadopted” estates
- to reduce the number of low density greenfield developments which are so profitable for developers and to preserve natural habitats – just 5% of Eastleigh borough remains as such
- to encourage the use of public transports by building around established rail networks where possible and incorporating cycle lanes within developments.
- To encourage the use of smaller local building firms where possible
Unsustainable property building fuelled by investment and corporate profits is not the answer for our community who need genuinely affordable houses for homes. As such we do not support the councils emerging plan or the planned developments within it.