The new government has taken decisive steps to preserve our greenbelt and open spaces from concrete – scrapping the South East Plan and announcing plans to put communities (not Whitehall) in charge of planning policy. But there remains considerable demand for affordable housing in Elmbridge – households on the local authority register for social housing rose by 22% between 2002 and 2008. So, what is the government’s plan?
The government proposes to expand shared ownership schemes for social tenants. It is reviewing the scope to give local authorities a greater share of the tax revenue raised from the sale of new homes – to incentivise the provision of affordable housing where appropriate. And, it is looking at scrapping stamp duty for first time buyers – an idea I strongly favour.
Today, I visited some of the existing and new social housing – being managed and delivered locally by Elmbridge Housing Trust – including at St Johns Wood, Thames Mead, Nelson House and Colnwell House. Demand remains high for rented and shared ownership – particularly amongst ‘key workers’ and first time buyers.
There is a tension between preventing urban sprawl and providing affordable housing – all the more reason to strengthen local democracy so that communities, not quangos and bureaucrats, get decide how to strike the right balance for them.
(Inspecting the Solar Panels on the new homes at Nelson House with Scott Baxendale from Elmbridge Housing Trust)