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Brighton and Hove Liberal Democrats

Housing Campaign: Time to Build Outside the Box

Tim Farron has declared a "national emergency" in housing, and nowhere is the need to build more visible than in Brighton & Hove.

The Liberal Democrats are committed to making sure that good-quality affordable housing is delivered in our city. We challenge the assertion that the proposed BHCC-Hyde joint venture is the only means of achieving affordable housing and are extremely concerned that, in the event of an overspend by the joint venture, frontline council services will be hit.

We propose a four-point plan to offer hope to thousands:

1. HOMES: 40% affordable housing is a must

Brighton & Hove City Council must enforce the 40% affordable housing requirement in each new scheme. This is the council's own target but it has become routine for developers to underdeliver. The council extracting money in exchange for missed targets does nothing to provide the affordable homes we so desperately need.

2. OPENNESS: open, democratic, transparent planning

In order to build the homes we need, residents need to feel included and passionate about the changes, and this can't happen if decisions are made behind closed doors. The secretive process used by Labour, Conservative and Green councillors for the King Alfred development was a disgrace. With no sign of the promised public consultation, it is time to scrap the scheme and start again with a clear, transparent process. The public have every right to participate in the future of the city and we need a fresh start at King Alfred.

3. PARTNERSHIPS: working with the right partners to secure the best deal

The council must be open-minded to working with other partners. Their own City Plan shows that the 1,000 homes over 5 years resulting from the proposed Joint Venture with Hyde falls far short of the total requirements for the city, and they are staking £53 million of taxpayers' money with, as yet, not a single site identified. Working with other partners in the city must be explored, particularly in situations where the developer would contribute the build if the council contributes the land, so that there are no demands on the general fund or risk to frontline council services.

4. ECO-HOUSING: environmentally friendly and economical to run

Ecological housing is good for the environment and good for the people who live in them. It can apply to new-build housing and the refurbishment of existing buildings. The use of insulation, double glazing and efficient heating systems helps to reduce energy bills for households into the future, whilst use of sustainable and recycled building materials, where practical, can help the environment. Building new housing or converting older buildings near public transport and community facilities reduces the need to make as many car journeys. Built this way, ecological housing can be good for the environment and good for the people who live in them

Next steps...

PETITION

We have a petition at http://liberalbrighton.org/housing-petition calling for the council to meet their own 40% affordable housing requirements. Please sign and share as widely as possible.

QUESTION TO THE COUNCIL

At the next full meeting of Brighton & Hove City Council on Thursday 6th April, Carrie Hynds will be asking the council why they turned down an approach from KSD Housing to build affordable homes in our city following their successful pilot scheme in Lewes.

KSD would contribute the build if the council contributed the land, meaning a two-bedroom home could be rented for as little as £90/week. This would be a big step towards providing truly affordable homes. KSD also use local apprentices and can retro-fit their homes for disabled access, including wet rooms, at no extra cost to residents.

If you are able to attend the meeting, it starts at 4.30pm in Brighton town hall and public questions are taken towards the start of the agenda. Seats in the public gallery are allocated on a first-come, first-serve basis so it is wise to arrive at 4.10pm (and bring a book, newspaper or your mobile to kill time!).

HOLLINGBURY GOLF COURSE

We believe another element to resolving the city's housing crisis is to build on under-used land and that 1,000 new homes could be built in a mixed housing development at Hollingbury Golf Course. Andy Winter, CEO of Brighton Housing Trust, would give public backing to this stance but we are in need of experienced volunteers to work up the scheme.

CAMPAIGN GROUP

If you are interested in joining the campaign group, particularly if you have expertise in housing, planning, architecture or financial modelling, please contact Carrie Hynds.

Our next meeting will be held at Kiki's Kitchen, 63 Holland Road, Hove at 7.30pm on Monday 10th April 2017. We will report back on the council's response to our KSD question, talk about how to publicise our campaign and start to draft copy on housing for our 2019 local election manifesto.