Originally posted under Comment & Opinion on www.cornishstuff.com
Cornwall’s families desperately need genuinely affordable homes.
Hardly surprising then that incredulity was the reaction of most to the claim that Cornwall Council has the best record in the country for providing affordable homes.
If true, it doesn’t say much for the rest of the country. What are the facts?
Almost 20K people are currently on the Homechoice register in Cornwall.
However, many families simply don’t bother to register as they know they will never be re-homed. I believe the real figure is double that. I have reports from lots of local families going back over 15 years of being discouraged from registering with the council as they were told would never be assisted.
Parents struggle with insecure tenancies and rents way out of proportion with local wages. Over 60% of wages spent just on rent is now the norm. Their children cannot find homes in Cornwall and have to leave in droves. When they want to return to Cornwall the prospect of losing a 1/3rd of their income means they simply cannot afford to.
Is this what we want the future of Cornwall to look like? A giant retirement village and playpark for those rich enough to buy second homes?
If not, we must urgently appreciate the scale of the problem. We don’t need more housing built for second homeowners. We need genuinely affordable homes and a new generation of high quality environmentally sustainable council homes.
Just to get the number of council homes in Cornwall up to the national average level we would need to build 20K new homes. That doesn’t take into account our lower wages levels and higher housing costs which mean we need a great deal more.
The figures the council were celebrating last week showed that private developers completed 1,692 questionably affordable homes in the last 9 months. If that level were maintained and there is no such plan, it would still take 10 years to re-home just those families who are on the register,
Bringing back full local democratic input into the planning process, so that developments are built in harmony with communities rather than imposed on them by distant bureaucrats based in Bristol.
Quality is also vital, so many new builds are renowned for bad quality as developers are concerned with profit rather than quality. For affordable housing, it is even worse. One local builder told me he thinks this could be the next mundic block scandal.
Such poor quality materials are being used to build affordable homes they simply will not last. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
I spoke to residents of a small mixed development in Threeemilestone. Built by a local builder, the houses were all built to the same spec, affordable or not. The difference in quality from that estate to many new builds in the area is tangible. Anyone would be happy to live there, and this is exactly as it should be.
As your MP I would prioritise building in harmony with communities, high quality environmentally sustainable council houses, or genuinely affordable homes to enable our communities to thrive.