OPINION

Warren Morgan: high rise and urban fringe homes urgently needed to tackle housing crisis

Posted On 17 Jan 2016 at 9:57 am

This week I went to London to lobby government ministers for more powers to tackle the housing crisis in the city and our region.

We need the power to bring forward new sites, draw in new funding and co-ordinate work to build more affordable homes for rent or to buy.

The statistics on housing in the city are staggering. This week a report said that rents in Brighton and Hove are rising by 18 per cent a year. The average rent for a one-bedroom flat is around £900 a month.

The average price of a flat is £260,000. For a semi-detached home that rises to £360,000 and for a terraced house the average is now £425,000, some £40,000 less than London.

Four thousand people move here from the capital each year, while the student rental market eats more properties each month. With the lack of supply these factors mean house price inflation of more than 12 per cent a year.

Current council policy asks for 40 per cent of major new developments to be “affordable”, meaning on offer at 80 per cent of market rents. With rents so high, even that is unaffordable to those we seek to help, and 40 per cent of units are rarely if ever achieved.

That’s why we are looking to build 2,000 homes for rent at 60 per cent of market rent through our proposed joint venture with Hyde. We are building dozens of new council homes in Whitehawk as part of our pledge to build at least 500 council homes by 2019.

Some argue for rent controls. We are committed to a fairer rental market, with transparent fees and rights for tenants so that the few unscrupulous landlords and letting agents who give the sector a bad name can be made to clean up their acts and not undercut the decent majority.

We will look at any and all opportunities to build and seek to offer homes of all types and tenures in the city to those who need them. Our economy depends on staff being able to afford to live here. Our council needs the additional income new council tax-generating properties will bring.

The government is pushing the city and our regional neighbours to build. In his autumn statement the Chancellor said he wants 200,000 “starter homes” built by 2020, at 80 per cent of market rates and capped at £250,000. This is welcome, though that price will still be well out of reach for many on lower incomes.

The government required us to look at every option in drawing up our City Plan which must deliver over 11,000 new homes in the next 15 years.

Of course when developers bring forward plans to build, as they have done recently in the east of the city, the opposition from Conservative councillors and MPs is vociferous. Any plans to build out into the urban fringe, up in high-rise developments or on brownfield sites are opposed.

Unless we are to become a “London-by-the-sea” with properties only within reach of the wealthy, and new build reserved for overseas investors, the Conservative government must give us the powers to intervene in the market and Conservative politicians must accept the case for more homes to be built.

Bold solutions, difficult decisions and innovative partnerships are needed if we are to do what is needed to tackle our city’s housing crisis.

  1. Edward Reply

    Brighton and Hove very finely politically balanced, no overall control of council for past 3 decades or so. All political persuasions need to combine to make the case for house building. Boris Johnson has been robust in his support of house building in London and largely unswayed by vested interests of objectors. Same bold leadership and armour clad approach is needed here if we are not to see 18% rent rise next year and into the future. House and rent price inflation in excess of wage growth year on year will tear up the fabric of the city and diminish it’s rich diversity.

  2. Valerie Paynter Reply

    What you build will be forced onto the ooen market by Govt legislation as the Tories war on renting gets further into its stride.

  3. trevor carr Reply

    Whats the point of the council building new houses when the council can’t occupy the houses they already have.My neightbours 3 bedroom house has remained empty since she passed away in 2013.

  4. Rob Reply

    here here!
    there is no room left, so like it or not, we have to build upwards

  5. tone__ Reply

    No to high rise towers. Yes to houses, maisonettes and flats etc. The creep of high rise is unnecessary and will only spoil our lovely towns (now city). We are not America, respect our heritage, what’s left of it.

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