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B&H Lib Dems - Council must do better on Housing

April 21, 2020 9:47 AM

Brighton and Hove Lib Dems welcome the publication of the council's Proposed Submission for the City Plan Part 2, focusing on new housing developments across the city up to 2030.

We are delighted to hear the council talking of the need to deliver more genuinely affordable housing across the city, however we also note with frustration that the City Plan Part 1, adopted in 2016, committed to targeting 40% of affordable housing provisions in developments of over 15 dwellings and on this front they have consistently fallen a long, long way short. We urge the council to be more robust in their negotiations with developers, ensuring adequate provisions are consistently included.

We note with concern that the requirement for Build to Rent developments will be only for 'up to 20%' of homes to meet affordable housing criteria. We fear that this is deeply unambitious, setting no minimum requirements and providing zero accountability for failure to meet objectives. Given the council's struggle to meet affordable housing targets to date, it risks being interpreted as effectively giving developers carte blanche to ignore the requirements as they are. We call on the council to set minimum affordability requirements for Build to Rent developments and strictly adhere to them when considering applications.

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Brighton Kemptown, Ben Thomas, said "The council are failing badly to meet their own targets on delivering affordable homes. Too many developments are being green-lighted that simply provide insufficient levels of affordable housing to meet the city's needs. Talking up their credentials on this is one thing, but actions speak louder than words and it's time we saw them deliver for residents."

Brighton & Hove Lib Dems also call on the council to consider the types of properties we are developing. It is welcome to see prominence in City Plan Part 2 given to Housing Quality, Choice and Mix, but the reality is that this is not a new consideration and we have seen far too many developments and proposals that prioritise small, expensive flats, principally studios or 1-bedroom, with hardly any focus on delivering residential family homes.

Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Hove & Portslade, Beatrice Bass, said "We welcome the council's aim for a diverse range of dwelling types, tenures and sizes that reflect and respond to the city's housing needs and changing demographic. Sadly, the council's latest housing and development track record has not lived up to this ambition and we must ensure that it is now vigorously implemented.

"We need to be more creative with our developments. We will not solve our housing crisis by bringing to the market swathes of small, expensive flats to rent. By developing a greater variety of homes, including more residential family homes, we create more opportunities for people to size up or down depending on their circumstances. This will ultimately result in a more balanced housing market for all."

Brighton & Hove Liberal Democrats are also disappointed at the lack of consideration given to our proposal to re-purpose the land at Hollingbury Golf Course. The golf course, on council-owned land, is a considerably underused resource in a well-served location. It could be better utilised by converting a portion of the land for development, providing high quality, eco-friendly and genuinely affordable family homes along with council houses, contributing to increasing the diversity of housing developments as well as putting a significant dent in the council's rising housing list, which now stretches to over 19,500 people. The remaining land could be converted to provide a large public park for community use and dog walkers, with a section assigned for allotments too. We call on the council to consider these proposals afresh.

Pepe and Ed

Beatrice Bass with Lib Dem interim co-leader, Ed Davey