Monday, September 05, 2011

When is affordable not affordable?

In housing terms the answer is When it's in Eaglescliffe (or Yarm, or Wynyard ....)
When developers are applying for permission to build more than a handful of houses in Stockton they have to provide a percentage of "affordable" dwellings as things stand at present.  (In their infinite wisdom Conservative led government are changing that!).  However, the definition of affordable has always been set as a percentage of the market price locally.  And that's where the problem comes in this ward.  As young people trying to get their first independent home, low paid workers and elderly people looking to move into something smaller for their old age all know the market value in Eaglescliffe is rather higher than the average in the borough.  Take 80% of that and you're still paying more than you would in many other wards for a full price home.  As a result, many young people find they have to move away from the support network of family and friends in order to have their own home.
Developers wanting to build in Eaglescliffe don't like having to provide affordable homes.  They want to maximise the sale income, understandably.  There is a provision in the Stockton policy designed for small developments which allows the developer to pay a contribution towards some affordable housing elsewhere in the borough instead of providing it in situ.  This has been used by at least one developer in Wynyard who argued that to put one or two affordable homes in a development of houses costing about £1m would be silly because the development wasn't within reach of  public transport, shops or schools.  My argument was that in that case no houses should be built there, but it was overuled.  Now a similar suggestion is being floated for one in Eaglescliffe - let's use the money to fund some really affordable housing in central Stockton rather than some not quite affordable ones in Eaglescliffe.  I for one will be fighting that if it becomes a serious proposal.  Unless we're going to turn into a ward full of well paid professionals and people stuck in their too big house because selling it would mean they had to move out to another area we need some affordable housing here, and I will keep on arguing that case in planning and anywhere else it comes up.


Anonymous said...

An excellent post Maureen! I'm a 25 year old Secondary School Head of Department and can't afford the homes in Eaglescliffe at the moment.

Eaglescliffe needs more affordable affordable homes. I do hope that the developers at Allens West and the like are forced to provide affordable homes in Eaglescliffe, and not elsewhere in Stockton. I don't want to live elsewhere in Stockton. I've always lived in Yarm/Eaglescliffe/Ingleby - I'm happy here, and it is convenient for getting to work (I work south of the borough).

Keep up the good work when it comes to planning! Thank you.

Anonymous said...

And who exactly are the Conservatives leading in Government? Your party!