A leading local Liberal Democrat urged Brighton and Hove City Council to uphold its own policy on affordable homes this afternoon (Thursday 14 December).
Carrie Hynds, who stood for the Lib Dems in Hove at the general election in June, handed in a petition to a meeting of the full council at Hove a Town Hall. It was signed by almost 1,100 people.
Addressing councillors in the council chamber, she said: “We call upon Brighton and Hove City Council to meet their own affordable housing targets and make developers provide 40 per cent affordable homes on sites of 15-plus units.
“Brighton and Hove City Council has been repeatedly missing its 40 per cent affordable homes target which is worsening our city’s housing crisis.
“We have recently seen approval of schemes on sites such as the old Sackville Hotel at 17 per cent affordable, the old Astoria cinema at 0 per cent affordable and 121-123 Davigdor Road at 0 per cent affordable.
“The loss of these homes is not being compensated because the 40 per cent figure is not being exceeded elsewhere.
“The Liberal Democrats call upon the council to implement its own 40 per cent target more vigorously.
“On 9 November, The Argus reported that councillors were ‘pleased’ with the outcome of the Sackville Hotel site with 10 affordable units out of 60.
“This is because the developers initially applied with only five out of 60 affordable. But the 40 per cent affordable figure would have been 24.
“Rather than look at the increase from five to 10, look at the decrease from 24 to 10. That is how those struggling to afford to live in our city will always see it and we need the council to be on our side.
“In the course of gathering signatures for this petition, I’ve spoken to people spending over half their income on rent, people living long-term in temporary emergency accommodation and people who have been shocked to see the same housing and homelessness issues here as in London.
“Quite simply, for every development that misses affordable housing targets, the housing crisis in our city deepens.
“The definition of ‘affordable’ has already been squeezed to breaking point, with the 80 per cent market rate already out of reach for many of those who live and work in our city.
“We need elected councillors to make the most of the power they have and give clear instructions to council officers that 40 per cent is a serious requirement.
“Developers often use viability assessments to argue they cannot provide the required number of affordable homes and still turn a profit.
“The Liberal Democrats call for more transparency and therefore scrutiny.
“If all councillors and members of the public could see these viability assessments, they could be compared with the final profit actually made on the site.
“We need councillors to be determined to stand up for 40 per cent affordable both in council meetings and in the media.
“The homes delivered through New Homes for Neighbourhoods and the proposed joint venture are not enough and should not be presented as the whole solution.
“Above all, developers should not be praised by councillors for delivering less than 40 per cent affordable housing.
“Transparency, scrutiny and relentless focus are all needed to truly deliver on the 40 per cent.
“Several people signing this petition warned me that in delivering it today I’d be banging my head against a brick wall. My challenge to you is to prove them wrong.”
The petition will be discussed by the council’s Tourism, Development and Culture Committee on Thursday 11 January.