Another developer pleads poverty – can’t afford to build affordable housing (lol)!

Councillors said they were horrified they were being asked to ‘give away poor people’s right to a house’.

Last month, Teignbridge District Council’s planning committee approved a scheme that will see 10 new two and three-bed apartments built on the site of the Neilston Retirement Hotel in Woodway Road, but only if an affordable housing contribution of £86,431 was provided.

But an independent viability appraisal confirmed that a contribution that large would mean that the development would not be viable and that they would not be able to proceed.

The application went back before planners on Tuesday morning and they voted to accept the recommendation of the planning officer that an affordable housing contribution of £37,500 was requested.

Had the application been totally policy compliant in terms of a 25 per cent affordable homes or off-site contributions for Teignmouth, then developers would have been asked for a total liability of £172,863.

Cllr Alistair Dewhirst said: “I am horrified that we could just give away poor people’s right to a house and I couldn’t possibly support it. I don’t think what is there now is special but what they are proposing looks like Colditz to me.”

Cllr Jackie Hook added: “Last time we were content with the application and were happy to see these new apartments built and we compromised in favour of a contribution of one affordable unit.

“The applicant’s appraisal identifies a developer’s profit of £228,280, so we should ask for £50,000, not the £37,500, and they will hardly notice the difference.”

Cllr Dave Rollason added: “A £228,000 profit is a lot of money. The need for affordable housing is massive and it is unfair that we are taking money from the pockets who need it most and giving it to developers.”

She added: “You either have to accept the independent advice over viability, or refuse the application.”

Cllr Phil Bullivant said it would be very difficult to go against the professional advice given and he could not see the evidence to go against it.

Cllr Dennis Smith, chairman of the committee, added: “We asked for this report and now seem to want to just be ignoring what it says. The viability statement says that £37,500 is fair, so I don’t see how we can argue about it.”

The proposal of Cllr Hook to increase the contribution required to £50,000 was lost, and then councillors voted by 14 votes to three to approve the application with an affordable housing contribution of £37,500.

The scheme would see the demolition of the existing building and the construction of a three storey apartment building containing 10 new two and three-bed apartments, plus 18 car parking spaces and two double garages.

Councillors had previously been on a site visit and raised no objections to the principle of the application, with Cllr Charlie Dennis said that the building has deteriorated, is past its best and at present it is a ‘sad thing to see’.

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/theres-busy-homeless-camp-exeter-2565711

“Housing developer forced to scrap ‘misleading’ ads targeting first-time buyers”

“One of Britain’s largest housing associations has been forced to scrap an advertising campaign that implied its shared ownership scheme was equivalent to home ownership.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled Notting Hill Genesis – which owns 55,000 properties in London and the south-east – misled consumers by comparing its scheme in contrast with renting.

A slogan on its ad said: “I own a two-bedroom apartment and pay less per month than my friends pay to rent a room in a flatshare.”

But the ads were promoting the group’s shared ownership scheme, where homeowners only technically own a slice of the property and pay rent to Notting Hill in respect of the rest. …”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/consumer-affairs/housing-developer-forced-scrap-misleading-ads-targeting-first/

EDDC: “Relocation cost, No Deal Brexit, electric charging points and climate change motions rejected from being discussed”

Owl says: remember, the Chief executive, Mark Williams, is supposed to be a NEUTRAL civil servant and yet ALL of the refused motions are from ALL the minority groups ONLY……!

“Motions to support recycling, to call for a new property ombudsman to streamline complaints against shoddy builders, and for East Devon to get its fair share of the police precept rise will be discussed at next Wednesday’s full council meeting.

But motions over the full relocation costs of the move from Sidmouth to Honiton, to put electric charging points in all car parks, what to prioritise in a ‘No Deal’ Brexit and on climate change will not be discussed.

Various motions that councillors had put forward for debate at East Devon District Council’s full council meeting on Wednesday, February, were rejected by the council’s chief executive, as either the agenda already provides the opportunity for debate or the wording of the motions were inaccurate.

RELOCATION

Cllr Cathy Gardner had proposed a motion calling for the council to commit to publish an annual ‘summary of accounts’ for the relocation project until break-even is reached as relocation from Sidmouth to Honiton was proposed and predicated on the basis that the project would breakeven within 20 years and deliver cost-savings to the council tax payers of East Devon.

Cllr Gardner said: “Whilst some of this information is already available we feel it is vital for the ongoing costs to be published to show confidence that this project will breakeven. A majority of Councillors voted for relocation on the basis that money would be saved on energy bills. We are left unsure of whether breakeven will ever be proven.”

But an EDDC spokesman said: “The rejected motion contained inaccuracies and omissions that had the potential to mislead councillors and it was also premature. It is however proposed to bring a report to the next meeting of the Cabinet that will summarise the position reached with regard to the sale of the Knowle and the relocation. Cllr Gardner can raise the matters she is concerned about as part of the debate into that report.”

The motion would have called for the accounts to include

energy costs for the Knowle for the past 20 years (for comparison);

energy costs for both Blackdown House and Exmouth Town Hall per year;
the capital receipt for the sale of the Knowle;

a Red Book valuation of Blackdown House as of 1 March 2019;

the full costs for the relocation project since its inception, including: project management; removal, furnishing and equipment;

staff retraining and travel expenses;

new-build costs for Blackdown House; refurbishment costs for Exmouth Town Hall; and any other associated costs.”

CLIMATE CHANGE

Cllr Matthew Booth’s motion had called for the council to recognise that Climate Change and Global Warming are the key issues of our time, to acknowledge the strong concerns of young people in particular the recent walk out of school children and for the council to commit to introducing a policy of carbon measurement and reduction within all aspects of its own activity.

He said: “I personally do not care how we begin to do this, or who does it, but that we act now not wait for some planned strategy in the future.”

An EDDC spokesman said that the issue of climate change emergency is acknowledged to be of critical importance but that it would be appropriate to wait to see what Devon County Council decides. They added: “Currently, however, the County Council is considering its position and will shortly debate the matter. As we are in a two tier area it is appropriate for the District Council to assess the position taken by the upper tier authority and then respond accordingly. The public would expect us to work in partnership with the County Council rather than unilaterally.”

ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING

Cllr Eleanor Rylance had submitted a motion calling for the council to plan for and implement over the next five years a full rolling renovation programme of its car parks estates to fit and bring into operation electrical charging points at every space for domestic cars, and cycle parks with charging points for all types of cycle and that there should be mandatory EV charging points for the parking spaces of every new-built house in East Devon.

She added: “This council should approach the future of electrically-powered domestic vehicles with enthusiasm and proactivity, play a positive role in helping develop the use of electrical and should make this infrastructure, that will be a necessity within the next ten years, available in advance of full electrification of domestic vehicles in 2042.

But an EDDC spokesman said: ““The agenda already provides an opportunity for this issue to be raised so this motion was inappropriate.”

BREXIT

Cllr Rylance had also submitted a motion that said in the event of a No Deal Brexit or a version of Brexit that causes significant disruption, the council should approach this event as a situation of emergency in respect of its most vulnerable residents, dedicating any available human, material and financial resources required to palliate any negative outcomes for these groups, but the motion was rejected.

Talking about all the motions, a council spokesman said: “The council agenda for February contains the most important annual decision, namely the setting of the budget and the approval of the Council Tax for the forthcoming year. The process leading to this meeting has included several meetings where members were encouraged to raise all items of future relevance so these could be assessed as part of our service planning process and for assessment as part of the budget.

“It is unfortunate that some members did not take these opportunities and have chosen instead to submit their proposed motions.

“It is also noted that the wording of the motions was not checked in advance with relevant officers who would have been able to give timely advice as to their wording.”

But motions on the police precept, protection for new home owners and supporting recycling will be discussed.

POLICING

Cllr Tom Wright’s motion says: “In view of the £24 per band D property increase in policing precept, this council urges the Chief Constable to recognise the needs of East Devon when deciding how to allocate extra resources. East Devon residents are the biggest contributors to the police budget in Devon, other than Plymouth. It is only fair that we should get a fair share of the larger cake.”

NEW HOMES

Cllr Douglas Hull’s motion says: “The Government has stated that it would therefore be introducing as a priority a new property ombudsman to streamline complaints against shoddy builders. As a council that not only provides an excellent and highly regarded building control service but also has seen significant levels of new building in its district, we call on the government to fulfil its pledge to provide this much needed remedy for homeowners as a matter of the highest priority.”

RECYCLING

Cllr Peter Burrows’ motion says: “This Council continues to support the fine work done by the EDDC Recycling team in achieving the best results in Devon and to support and encourage local Organisations and voluntary groups who are involved in trying to reduce the amount of single use plastics used in their communities & beaches by making resources and expertise available, where appropriate. The order of priority should be – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. To actively help promote such activities through the Councils social media platforms.”

The full council meeting will be held at East Devon District Council’s new Honiton Heathpark HQ on February 27 at 6pm.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/relocation-cost-no-deal-brexit-2557565

“New “affordable” housing in Devon is anything but, investigation reveals”

“Most new “affordable” housing in Devon is anything but, a major new DevonLive investigation has revealed.

Affordable housing is an umbrella term used by the government to describe lower-rent properties that are available to eligible households unable to afford the full market rate.

This includes both traditional social rent housing – which is similar to what most people know of as council housing – and “affordable rent” housing, which was first introduced in 2011/12.

Social rent is based on a formula that combines local wages and local property values, and typically sees rents set at around 50 per cent of private rents in the same area.

“Affordable rent”, however, is capped at 80 per cent of the full market rate – meaning that in many areas it will still be out of the reach of people on low incomes. …

… Some local areas see “affordable rent” housing dominate more than others. In Mid Devon, South Hams, Teignbridge and West Devon, 100 per cent of new affordable housing was “affordable rent” rather than social rent last year.

Meanwhile, in East Devon the figure stood at 97 per cent, in Torridge at 67 per cent, and in both North Devon and Exeter at just 13 per cent.
In Plymouth the figure also stood at 100 per cent, while in Torbay they made up 58 per cent of the total.

In comparison, the national average saw 81 per cent of new affordable housing built or acquired across England in 2017/18 classed as “affordable rent” rather than social rent.

The most common type of affordable housing found in Devon is general needs properties managed by private registered providers, such as housing associations.

These cost an estimated £86 a week on average for a social rent property, compared to £121 a week for an “affordable rent” property – meaning “affordable rent” in Devon is typically 42 per cent higher, or £1,854 more a year. Private renters in Devon pay an estimated £150 a week, on average.

Kate Henderson chief executive of the National Housing Federation said: “In 2010, the government stopped funding social housing altogether, and announced it would only fund homes for “affordable rent” instead.

“This left housing associations in a really difficult position where they had to choose between building homes for “affordable rent” or building nothing.

“In the face of a dire housing shortage, many housing associations chose to build affordable rented homes, but continued to argue that social housing shouldn’t be neglected.

“While affordable rents do work for some people, there are many more who desperately need social housing.

“In 2017, the government announced some new money for social housing for the first time in seven years, but this is nowhere near enough.”

https://www.devonlive.com/news/property/new-affordable-housing-devon-anything-2543061

More spending on social housing could have saved governments £7 bn over 20 years

“A more consistent approach to social housebuilding over the past 20 years could have saved the government £7bn in housing benefit payments, research has found.

If the government had built 100,000 social rent homes each year over the past two decades, renters could also have benefited from an extra £1.8bn in disposable income, analysis from the Local Government Association has concluded.

The government currently has a commitment to build 300,000 new homes each year by the mid-2020s, but spreading this target out over the past 20 years could have saved both the government and renters significant sums, according to the analysis done in partnership with Capital Economics.

Overall, government would have had to borrow an additional £152bn (in 2017 prices) to build 100,000 social rent homes each year between 1997-2017, the LGA said.

But the report out today said building 100,000 annually would have meant all housing benefit claimants living in the private rented sector could have moved to cheaper social rent homes by 2016.

Every pound spent on construction output stimulates an increase of £2.84 in GDP, according to research referenced in the report. …”

https://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2019/02/social-housing-cutbacks-added-ps7bn-benefits-bill-reveals-lga

Daily Telegraph touts ’empty homes tax’

“Housing worth £123 billion is barely used in Britain, researchers have calculated, and have called for a one per cent tax on second homes to dissuade people from keeping hold of mothballed property.

A new study by University College London (UCL) concluded that building new homes is not the answer to Britain’s housing crisis as they are likely to be bought up as second homes or investments in the most popular areas.

Researchers collected information from around one third of local authorities in Britain covering 40 per cent of the population and found nearly 340,000 homes that were rarely used.

The majority were in London and the South West and Kensington was found to be the worst, with £21 billion of underused property in the borough.

Around four in 10 people currently live in an area where the average value of barely-used homes is higher than those that are permanently occupied, suggesting that the most desirable properties are being bought for purposes other than use as a home, for example as investment opportunities or holiday homes.

Researcher Jonathan Bourne at University College London, said: “Some of the most surprising findings were the sheer value and quantity of low-use properties in some areas.

“The data shows that low-use properties are very concentrated in small numbers of desirable areas. In such cases simply building more homes is not going to solve the problem, as the issue is intense competition for property, not a lack of places to live.

“An empty homes tax may be more effective, with the potential to generate a not inconsiderable income for local authorities, whilst taxing people who are typically not eligible to vote in local elections, or encouraging them to rent out their properties.” …”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2019/02/13/123-billion-property-barely-used-britain-experts-call-empty/

“Government housing delivery plan ‘flawed’ “

Well, cover me in tar and call me the M5! Owl has been saying this for YEARS. The only question that needs to be asked is: Is this deliberate or unintentional? Either way, it’s a damning indictment of its mendacity and incestuous relationship with developers or a damning indictment of its totally inept ability to govern. Or, of course (and more likely) BOTH!

“The government’s housing planning system is unable to demonstrate it is meeting housing demand effectively, public spending watchdog the National Audit Office (NAO) has said.
The government wants 300,000 new homes a year from the mid-2020s onwards.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has a standard method, developed in 2017, for local authorities to assess the number of new homes needed.
The NAO says this has weaknesses.

It says these weaknesses will result in a cut in the number of planned new homes in five of nine regions, while in London, the method will mean that new builds need to double in order to meet what the department thinks is needed.
The Local Government Association (LGA) said the current formula did not take into account the needs of local communities.

‘Free-for-all’

Local authorities – by law – need to have an up-to-date plan for building new homes.

If they are unable to prove that they have a five-year supply of land for housing, developers have greater freedoms to build where they want.

The NAO points out that this risks ill-suited developments, while the LGA says it risks a “free-for-all”.

The NAO says that between 2005-06 and 2017-18, 177,000 new homes per year were built on average, with the number never rising above 224,000.

To meet its ambition for 300,000 homes a year, the department will need to oversee a 69% increase in the average number of new homes built.

The NAO recommends the housing department should regularly monitor the gap between its ambition for 300,000 new homes and what is being planned.

It also says it needs to work with local authorities and other government departments to ensure that infrastructure is delivered more effectively.

Amyas Morse, the head of the NAO, said: “For many years, the supply of new homes has failed to meet demand.

“From the flawed method for assessing the number of homes required, to the failure to ensure developers contribute fairly for infrastructure, it is clear the planning system is not working well.

“The government needs to take this much more seriously and ensure its new planning policies bring about the change that is needed.”

Councillor Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s Housing spokesman, said: “We remain clear that the government’s housing needs formula does not take into account the complexity and unique needs of local housing markets, which vary significantly from place to place.”

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47157413