Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Affordable housing

What do you think is an appropriate level of affordable housing in any new development?

Last night's Wrecsam Council planning committee rejected an ultimatum from a housing developer in Brymbo to reduce the number of affordable homes on a 120-house estate from eight to four. The developer also demanded that its agreed contribution to a new school in Brymbo should be reduced to zero.

The developer cited lower house prices and won the backing of the free-market loving local Tory councillor. He claimed that there were plenty of affordable homes in the Brymbo and Tanyfron area and the reneging on a section 106 agreement was of little concern.

The old steelworks site will soon consist of 600 homes, with barely a handful of them affordable in any meaningful sense of the word. The developers on the site have offered some to a housing association but they turned out to be below the Welsh Housing Quality Standard and therefore unacceptable - a basic error that appears to have gone unpunished.

If the developer does not contribute to the school, the council will be left to pick up the bill. The economic downturn is affecting the council as much as any developer - why should taxpayers pay when developers have made super profits from the housing boom?

I do not remember any developer offering to pay more in section 106 contributions when house prices in Wrecsam soared by 207% between 1995 and 2005. They were happy to take the money and run.

No more - this is a new council with a very different approach to planning matters as shown by the overwhelming decision to reject the developer's ultimatum.

4 comments:

Oscar said...

The affordable housing targets of Wrexham County Borough Council are aspirational to say the least.

The only way they will be able to achieve it is by giving away the silver and by that I mean public open spaces across the borough and Plaid are happy to sacrifice the crown jewels in the name of socialism.

As for Councillor Rogers - at least he recognises the importance of a free market, reduced red tape and support for businessess. Why should planners impose conditions that make developments unviable - councillors should listen to the experts rather than impose ideology that will not hold water with the planning inspectorate.

It is no wonder the construction industry is struggling.

Lets hope the developer win on appeal and send a clear message to Wrexham.

Plaid Whitegate said...

Oscar,
Wrecsam Council's current affordable housing target is for 25% of all developments over 25 houses. That means that a tiny proportion of our housing is affordable and many developments deliberately choose to submit 24 homes as part of a scheme to avoid the condition.
The intention is to strengthen that target to reflect the needs of people locally. You call it red tape, I call it democracy.
You should try to get your facts right on open spaces. Plaid councillors at last month's planning committee voted against affordable housing on a public open space in Coedpoeth - it's a difficult choice either way and one made more difficult by previous council decisions to make other land available for non-affordable housing developments. However, we are committed to defending public open spaces from development although this will undoubtedly make if more difficult to deliver affordable housing.
Glad to see you support the unfettered free market - after all, the capitalists did such a good job of the banking system that taxpayers had to bail them out. No complaints about red tape then...

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

We are going up in the world, Tory bloggers from Conwy posting on a Plaid blog, what next! Hope Oscar votes for us in the Total Politics stakes.

Plaid Gwersyllt said...

We are going up in the world, Tory bloggers from Conwy posting on a Plaid blog, what next! Hope Oscar votes for us in the Total Politics stakes.