New bill a '˜threat' to delivery of affordable housing in Crawley

New Government legislation would '˜threaten' the delivery of affordable housing in Crawley, according to the council's deputy leader.

Monday, 21st December 2015, 11:54 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 5:37 am
Councillors Stephen Joyce and Peter Smith put forward a motion highlighting concerns at the Housing and Planning Bill

Stephen Joyce (Lab, Langley Green), also Crawley Borough Council’s cabinet member for housing, said Crawley had a ‘great need’ for affordable housing with many people struggling to find a suitable place to live on their own.

He put forward a motion last Wednesday night arguing that the Housing and Planning Bill, currently going through Parliament, would ‘threaten the provision of affordable homes for rent and buy’, by forcing high-value council homes to be sold on the open market, extending the right-to-buy to housing association tenants, and undermining requirements on private developers to provide affordable homes.

Since they had no control over permitted development rights offices, which sees buildings converted to flats with no affordable housing included, he described the small units as ‘basically holes’.

Cllr Joyce criticised proposals to exempt developers building ‘starter homes’ from having to pay infrastructure contributions, and suggested that even a 20 per cent deposit ‘would be above most people’s earnings in this town’.

His motion also raised concerns at the lack of any commitment in the bill to replace affordable homes like-for-like, plans to give Government powers to override councils on local plans and levels of rents, and the lack of any help for private renters over high prices, poor living conditions, and insecurity.

He added: “They are taking properties away from the people of this town.”

But Richard Burrett (Con, Pound Hill North) said: “We have yet another example of political grandstanding on the part of the administration and I thought about bring an amendment but could not be bothered.”

He thought the motion made a number of presumptions before the full detail was available.

Peter Smith (Lab, Ifield), cabinet member for planning and economic development, referenced a recent letter from David Standfast, chief executive of Horsham-based housing association Saxon Weald, where he warned that Government changes could mean that providers would not be able to build as many houses and affordable rented properties as previously planned.

Cllr Smith, who seconded the motion, said that even a couple on ‘reasonable pay’ in Crawley would not be able to afford starter homes and the changes were merely about ‘subsidising a certain part of society not the people who most need the help’.

He added: “This is not political grandstanding, this is about speaking up for Crawley people who desperately need help.”

The motion was carried by 19 votes to 18 and asked CBC’s cabinet to analyse the impact of any proposed changes to Crawley and to use the information to write to the Government highlighting its concerns, and to set up a meeting between the council’s leader, chief executive and Crawley MP Henry Smith.

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