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.
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