We need truly affordable housing in Brighton and Hove

Posted On 21 Jun 2019 at 6:19 pm

When asked last week by the BBC Politics Show what I would ask the potential candidates for Number 10 to do for the people of Brighton and Hove, I had quite a list.

To have back the 40 per cent cut to local government funding would help us to provide the services we need for local people.

To resolve how we will fund social care for our ageing population so they can live out the rest of their lives in dignity.

To stop denying climate change and start taking global action so that our young people have a future.

But I settled on housing – or more accurately planning policy. Yes, it might sound a bit dull, but it is how we decide where we can build houses and more importantly how we can make sure there is enough affordable housing.

Firstly, I have a big problem with the definition – affordable to who? The official definition is 80 per cent of market rate.

With the average rent for a three-bedroom home in Brighton and Hove being £1,650 a month and the average wage being £25,500, the equation clearly doesn’t work for people who live here.

Locally, our council policy is to get between 20 per cent and 40 per cent affordable homes in new developments.

Unfortunately, that is trumped by national planning policy which allows developers to build fewer affordable homes and instead build luxury flats, party houses and holiday lets so they can maximise their profits.

When challenged, the developers flourish their ace card which is that the district valuer, a government body that provides independent valuation and property advice to local authorities, has agreed their scheme would not be financially viable if they build a greater proportion of affordable homes.

This is very frustrating for councillors on the Planning Committee because it means if they vote against a development, the developer can appeal – and the council would be likely to incur costs if we lost.

Clearly, this is not a good use of council funds at a time when we are struggling to make ends meet.

So, to the next occupant of Number 10, please change planning policy so that developers put people before profit.

Stop locking local people out of the housing market, because we all need somewhere affordable to live.

Councillor Nancy Platts is the Labour leader of Brighton and Hove City Council.

  1. Rolivan Reply

    What about the 1000 homes that were going to be built as a joint venture with Hyde?

  2. Jenny Mulligan Reply

    I think you’ll find Ms Platts’ puppet masters (aka Brighton and Hove Momentum) scuppered the Hyde Project for purely ideological reasons. You might be interested to know Ms Platts personally campaigned against new social housing in her ward because it upset all the homeowners there.

  3. Ian t Reply

    Strange that Nancy mentions developers building ‘luxury flats, party houses and holiday lets’ but not a word about the hundreds (thousands) of student units being built in the city on sites that would be just as suitable for the affordable homes that we all know that we are desperately short of!

  4. MegA Reply

    Developers put people before profit.. developers are business people – not charities. Developers make profit, pay taxes, invest to make more profit. That’s what proerty development is all about. It is a legitimate business that employs many, many people. Wake up Nancy. If you want cheap housing it has to be provided by not for profit organizations.

  5. Jane B Reply

    Where does she get this nonsense information from? Almost all party houses are in the very centre of the town near the clubs where building is impossible. All the new developments are either in luxury seafront locations and selling as flats to London or overseas buyers like the Marina or Kingsway. In contrast the tens of thousands of new flats to buy or rent are students flats or flats to rents like the Sackville Road, New England House area development, Circus street and Amex development. As for we all need somewhere affordable to live this is true but not in central Brighton just in the same way as many of us commute do not feel we all have a right to live next to zone 1 central London opposite Hyde Park. Perhaps she should also look at the poor Brighton council planning department that means any kind of development or planning application in Brighton is subject to huge delays, likely refusal and higher costs that need to be covered by the buyers.

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