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’.

“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.”

“New home owner in Exeter fumes over frustrations with Redrow”

“A disgruntled new home owner has spoken of his frustration at still waiting for his warped front door to be replaced after more than a year and having to contend with many other issues in his property.

Jamie Leaman moved into a two-bed house in Bishops Court – a housing development next to Sandy Park, Exeter – in July 2017 with his partner and their 12-year-old daughter.

Problems which have had to be corrected include a ‘leaky oven’ which had to be replaced and caused damage to a fitted kitchen cupboard; missing plasterboard tape which means joins are now visible; the back door handle had to be replaced because it was loose and had issues with the locking mechanism; and an incorrectly fitted bath panel has required replacing.

In January 2018, Jamie, 42, reported to Redrow he had a problem with his front door, and is still waiting for the issue to be resolved. Redrow have responded saying they are working with him to come to a resolution. …”

Jamie, who lives in a shared ownership property, claims there are also many other residents who live in Bishops Court who have also encountered problems with their homes.

He said: “There is a Bishops Court Facebook forum page where quite a few people have complained about Redrow. Someone said they wished they have never moved here. It doesn’t seem to matter if you live in a shared or full ownership home; the problems are the same. …”

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. …”

“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.


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.”

“More than 165k social homes lost in six years, says CIH”

“The number of social rent homes in England has plummeted by 165,697 in just six years, analysis by a trade body has found.

As many as 199,000 of social rent homes will have been lost between 2012 and 2020, according to analysis of government data by the Chartered Institute of Housing released yesterday.

The housing trade body estimated 140,828 council homes and 57,869 housing association properties will be lost by 2020.

Terrie Alafat, chief executive of CIH, said: “For many people on lower incomes, the only truly affordable option is social rent.

“It is simply unacceptable that we are losing so many of our most affordable homes at a time when more and more people are in need.”

The loss was mainly due to homes sold through right to buy but also demolitions and properties being converted to ‘affordable rent’, the CIH said.

Alafat added: “Government investment is still heavily skewed towards the private market.”

The CIH analysis found 79% of the central housing budget up to 2020-21 is directed towards private housing, with just 21% going to affordable housing.

“Rebalancing this budget could make a big difference – it is vital that the government supports councils and housing associations to build more homes for social rent,” Alafat said.

She added that CIH supports the principle of helping tenants move into home ownership but said “it cannot be at the expense of other people in need”.

Since 2010 funding for social rent, which tends to be around 30-40% cheaper than market rent, has been cut and funding has instead gone towards homes for ‘affordable rent’, which can be up to 80% of market rents.

CIH said the projection of 199,000 homes is lower than previous estimates because the government has made several “positive announcements” including funding for housing associations, lifting the HRA borrowing cap and abandoning plans to force councils to sell their most valuable empty homes to pay for an extension of right to buy.

Minister for housing Kit Malthouse said: “Providing quality and fair social housing is a priority for this government – evidenced by the fact we have delivered over 400,000 affordable homes since 2010.

“And by abolishing the borrowing cap, we’re also giving councils extra freedom to build the social homes their communities need and expect.”

Will Exeter take the pressure off East Devon with 12,000 new homes?

Owl says: unlikely!

“Plans for 12,000 new houses in Exeter will be unveiled today as the city expands over the next two decades.

The biggest house-building project will be in Marsh Barton, where more than 5,000 new homes are planned.

Thousands of others will be built in Sandy Gate, East Gate and Red Cow village.

Other schemes are also in the pipeline, including a new bridge over the Exe, cultural spaces and new schools.”