Councillors call for more affordable housing

More focus needs to be put in affordable housing in East Devon, while there is not enough emphasis on the use of brownfield sites for developments.

Development strategy looks to be on hold until the government’s review of the  NPPF review is completed. – Owl

Rob Kershaw, local democracy reporter

These were amongst the views put forward during an East Devon District Council strategic planning meeting on Tuesday [14 February].

In proposed changes to the national planning policy framework (NPPF), local authorities will no longer have to provide evidence of a five-year land supply.

Instead, if the change goes through, they will need to evidence that they have four years’ worth of development land, and it needs to be shown for two years after the new policy framework is published.

Cllr Eleanor Rylance (Liberal Democrat, Broadclyst) feels that affordable housing in the district is still beyond many people’s means.

“I’m not really assured by anything in our responses that we’re actually showing properly on the very real requirement for truly affordable housing,” she said. “And I’m just wondering whether, given the relatively low average income in East Devon, whether we shouldn’t put that forward as a reason for requesting truly affordable housing.

“The so-called affordable housing that’s being delivered at present is not affordable for too many people, so in my view, we need to be addressing some of our social housing shortage. And we know how many people are sitting on our social housing waiting list. The reason they are sitting there is because they cannot afford any other tenure.”

Cllr Richard Lawrence (Conservative, Whimple and Rockbeare) suggested the council should prioritise affordable housing when considering new developments.

“I wonder sometimes whether we’re being forceable enough when developments come forward to actually say ‘no, we want affordable housing’,” he said. “And proper affordable housing, stuff that people can afford.

“I don’t really think that we put enough emphasis when developers come to us with a planning application to say ‘no, this is what you’ve got to provide. This is what we need in the district, and you’ve got to find a way around it. It just seems a little bit odd that we let them [developers] get away with what I consider to be murder at the end of the day.”

Cllr Jess Bailey (Independent, West Hill and Aylesbeare) wants to see the authority make more effort to avoid building on greenfield sites.

“I still am dissatisfied with the efforts that this council has made to try and focus development in the existing towns,” she said. “And not in green fields, and not around our villages and subsuming some of our villages. So, I’m not satisfied at all that we’ve tried as hard as we possible could.”

Cllr Mike Howe (Conservative, Clyst Valley) added: “I want to agree with what Cllr Bailey in particular with what she said, particularly about brownfield sites.”

East Devon council will not allocate any sites for development until the new NPPF is completed by central government.