Friday, 20 September 2013

Affordable Housing by Liz Heazell

Liz Heazell with Lib Dem District Council Group
Leader, Sebastian Kindersley
When I became councillor in charge of Housing at South Cambs District council, I was appalled to discover how many people were waiting for permanent housing, particularly for rented dwellings. Many more council houses have been sold under the Right to Buy since then and are no longer available. Only recently have councils been able etc borrow money to build any more.

Working with parish councils, local landowners and housing associations, the district council has acted as an effective housing enabler, providing the rented and equity shared housing which allows families to have a settled existence, sometimes in villages with which occupants have strong familial links

Rising prices for market homes means that the need for affordable homes in our generally prosperous area is as great as ever. Sadly, the scheme favoured by the Chancellor of the Exchequer to help people buy homes up to £600,000 is not going to do much here. The association of lenders said recently that it calculated that house values will rise by 11% solely because of that scheme’s existence. What of the future? What can we do to help our young people? ~Whilst I expect much of the District council, I cannot speak highly enough of these local landowners who make land available at lower than market value to enable local people to have a lifetime home in their own community.

Parish councillors can hugely help in the search. Generally, small schemes which reflect local input give a community a great sense of achievement in that they have had a part in helping their own, and also have ensured their village has an increased number of younger people. Rewards in the shape of increased or improved amenities also accrue to a village.

Re-provisioning of old style estates (e.g. The Swifts at Fulbourn which I instigated) is the province of the council, - under the localism legislation, far more of a part can be played by village organisations.

If anyone wants to discuss the topic, please phone me on 870289 or email me on liz.heazell@btinternet.com.

Liz Heazell
(District Councillor for Haslingfield for 17 years and Housing Cabinet member for 5 years)