WHERE IS ALL THE AFFORDABLE HOUSING? AND NOT EVEN A MENTION OF SOCIAL HOUSING…
Paul Follows the new Liberal Democrat Councillor elected following the sudden resignation of Simon Thornton, the recently disgraced Mayor of Godalming and member of ‘YW’ Executive, said on FACEBOOK that he had deliberately waited a few days before posting on this because of his frustration after a recent Joint Planning Committee (JPC)
Several weeks ago we were asked to review a development – the Woolmead in Farnham. 134 homes, no affordable housing (despite our apparently fantastic local plan demanding at least 30%) – and we were told that was because the developers had convinced the borough that the scheme was not viable (also known as they were not making enough money) with the affordable component. We were told an ‘independent viability assessment’ made that all clear – but we were not sent copies of that assessment. I voted against it – but in this incarnation of the council, the application was passed anyway!
So, we asked the officers to ensure that if any more came forward in the future with 0% affordable we wanted to see the full financial assessment as part of our papers. Within two weeks we get another one – this time in Haslemere. Now because these were put on pink paper (confidential) I am not allowed to go into the figures – but let’s just say most firms wouldn’t baulk at this kind of profit margin and then use the sentence ‘not financially viable’ when it comes to affordable.
I made the case that the expert assessment merely formally confirmed what the margin was, it did not and cannot make a judgement as to what level we think it is acceptable to remove the affordable housing numbers. That judgement was for elected councillors. I asked for the application to be rejected – for them to come back with at least one affordable residence because last time I checked there actually are numbers between 0% and 30%. The argument is always for NONE not LESS for some reason.
Several councillors agreed, but not enough. It passed!
Where and when will the Conservatives take a moral stand in this area?
The Conservatives had already watered down their local plan from 40% to 30% in the drafting stages – but now they keep exempting developers from even that!
Oh – and not a Social Housing (better known as Council housing) proposal to be found. Something we desperately need!
DEMAND MORE from your elected councillors because a great many of them are failing you and this community at every turn. Bring on May 2019 so we can start trying to get the council we deserve.