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Affordable housing needed in Weston

by mikebell on 27 October, 2016

Local Councillor Mike Bell wrote in the Weston Mercury this week about the importance of more affordable housing in Weston town centre and elsewhere in the town. He said: “We do need to see a plan to deliver affordable homes to buy and rent to help meet the needs of the many local families that are in poor quality housing or struggling to get onto the property ladder.”

You can read his piece in full here:

“I was pleased to see that David Carter, North Somerset Council’s director of development and environment, took the trouble to write to the Mercury last week to correct a misrepresentation of the council’s plans for Dolphin Square.

“He stated that the intention is to provide starter homes for sale on the open market, not traditional affordable housing for rent. Put another way, not so-called ‘social housing’.

“What is disappointing is that he didn’t take the opportunity to set out the council’s vision for meeting wider housing need. The regeneration strategy for the town centre, of which Dolphin Square forms part, is clear in its ambition as Mr Carter put it to ‘increase development values across the town centre’. That is fine, as far as it goes.

“However, what about the very real current housing needs of local people? There are 3,500 households on the housing waiting list, trying to find suitable accommodation. These are people who are close to homelessness or living in clearly unsuitable or unsustainable accommodation.

“We know that it is increasingly difficult for younger households to access owner occupation as house prices are higher in comparison to average wages in North Somerset than they are in many places across the country.

“We know that many people are in privately rented accommodation because better quality or more affordable social housing for rent is just not available. In the case of Weston town centre, around half of households are in private rented accommodation – much of it good, but some not so.

“Driving up development values is a laudable aspiration to change the market dynamic in Weston town centre. However, alongside this we do need to see a plan to deliver affordable homes to buy and rent to help meet the needs of the many local families that are in poor quality housing or struggling to get onto the property ladder.

“Key to that is a balanced mix of housing types and housing tenures. That applies as much to the town centre as anywhere else and I hope that the council is not going to miss an opportunity to deliver, with the Homes and Communities Agency, solutions that meet the needs of local people now, as well as the residents of the future.”

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