Getting on your bike … and how that might affect the Knowle

Does anyone recall a government minister of the past (Norman Tebbit) telling young people that, if they wanted a job, they should “get on their bikes” and go to where the jobs were most prevalent?

What happens if you want to own your own home? Where do you go if you are on an average wage? The cheaper homes are largely in the north, but that is also where there are fewer well-paid jobs and, if you are from the West Country, that’s where family and friends are.

So, you rent where homes are expensive to buy, but where the jobs are and where your friends and family are. In this situation, not only will you never be able to own a home (unless you have a bank of mum and dad), you will also probably be paying nearly double in rent what you might have paid on a mortgage (see post below)!

Yet here in East Devon, and in the county as a whole, our housing policy is to build lots of bigger, more expensive houses in the most desirable and expensive places.

Ah, you say, but what about that wonderful new town of Cranbrook? Well, what about it? Cranbrook is turning out to be a mecca for buy to let landlords – perpetuating the high rent scenario that stops young people with low wages getting on the home ownership ladder, unless they are lucky or unlucky enough to be a two-wage childless couple with a bank of mum and dad.

How did we get here? By successive governments putting their faith in the free market and developers. And legislating for them in Local Plans (devised by those self-same developers!).

Social and truly affordable homes have been abandoned to greed.

EDDC could, if they had wished, have turned the Knowle over to a Community Land Trust which could have built affordable homes for local people. A CLT could have taken out a 40 year loan to pay back EDDC, the proceeds of which could have paid back THEIR 40 year loan for their new HQ. Instead EDDC is taking out a 40 year loan on a new HQ in Honiton which WE, the taxpayers, pay back and for which we get – nothing except mega-luxury retirement housing.

Though it is still not too late … with the PegasusLife planning application turned down, perhaps it is time for EDDC to do some of that “systems thinking” that they endlessly trumpet.

Don’t hold your breath.