Thursday, 1 November 2012

Cornwall's lower affordable homes target based on short-term thinking - UPDATED

Among all the other big decisions being taken by Cornwall Council at the moment, the issue of the new local plan (previously known as the core strategy) is one of the biggest. It is being discussed by the Cabinet next Wednesday and will be decided by all 123 councillors at the December council meeting.

The headlines will focus on the 49,000 target for the number of new homes being proposed for Cornwall over the 20 year lifetime of the plan.

One way in which this number could be brought down is through a better target for the proportion of affordable housing being provided by developers. With more than 25,000 families on the housing register, we need every one that we can get. (We should also be making better use of our powers to encourage empty homes to be brought back into use.)

The current local plan proposal is for a mere 30% affordable housing target for Launceston and most of Cornwall. This is a huge drop from the previously agreed figure of 50%. I have questioned this and been told that it is based on what we can expect to get in the current property market. To my mind that's appallingly short-term thinking. Although the property market is currently very depressed and we might have to accept 30%, no one seriously thinks that the market will not recover and we should be setting the figure for the good times (knowing we can offer accept lower) rather than the bad (as there is no provision for an increase).

I'll blog later about a couple of other key failings I think exist in the draft plan.

UPDATE - I've had it clarified that the affordable housing percentages can be altered as a result of changes in the economy and that the plan as a whole can be reviewed on a five yearly basis. Obviously that's a relief of sorts, but I remain convinced that we are planning on the basis of bad times rather than setting more ambitious targets and being prepared to compromise.

No comments: