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Homes debate rages on
The Government is suggesting that affordable housing targets be reduced and replaced with homes to rent, getting the UK building again and bringing jobs and new homes which are needed by everyone.
Coun T Simpson Laing says this will be “bad news for many in York” (Letters, August 16). I ask myself why?
At present virtually no so-called affordable homes are being provided by the private sector because they make, certainly small-scale developments, unviable.
So few new homes of any nature are being built, which has major implications for the new residents of York’s future. Some may not welcome any new development, but anyone with a rational mind knows it’s inevitable and needed in a vibrant economy How would dumping a policy that has failed to deliver and replacing it with one that may deliver be bad for York?
It may be bad for this councillor’s political beliefs or even her personal kudos.
However, the definition of being a grown-up is admitting you were wrong, rectifying the mistake and moving on, having learned something.
Will TSL and her crew rise to the challenge? I hope so, for the good of all of us in York.
John Reeves, Chair, The Helmsley Group, Monks Cross, York.
• YORK’S housing crisis results from the price of buying and renting in the city. Residents struggle to afford to live in York and their numbers grow as cuts are made to housing benefits.
A majority of York residents claiming housing benefit work, but payments for a two-bedroom property are based pro rata on a regional average of £511 per month, when the actual average is £648.
People claim housing benefit as many have an annual household income below £24,000, yet private-sector rent requires an average of £31,000 (financial institutions recommend that rent/mortgages should not cost more than 25 per cent of income). For a mortgage an annual household income of £56,000 is required.
John Jones (Letters, August 29) disagrees with affordable housing policy and that it is pepper-potted, but developers believe this does not devalue neighbouring homes. If Mr Jones is not happy with affordable housing legislation, introduced by the Conservatives in 1992, I suggest he lobbies the Government to invest in social housing, as councils do not have the money.
With a housing waiting list that grows monthly, I will continue to support the need for affordable housing.
• IT IS an obvious fact that if demand exceeds supply the price of whatever it is rises; we are seeing it now with fruit and vegetables because of bad weather.
Because of the policy of ‘right to buy’ under Margaret Thatcher, the supply of council rented property has shrunk and the money received from the sales has not been used to build more social property to rent.
Unfortunate young couples today now find they cannot afford the deposit to buy and rents are so exorbitant since the demand has created a demand which cannot be supplied.The lack of buying power among the young has meant builders are going out of business; the attempt to increase the building of social housing to rent because builders find it difficult to comply with the rules.
The Government is considering a new ‘right to buy’ and an offer of £75,000 to council tenants for a deposit has been mooted by the PM; sadly this policy and other circumstances have caused the number of people in rented property to double in 30 years.
Dennis Barton, Woodthorpe , York.
• THERE is a solution to the affordable housing problem that should satisfy the private building sector (Letters, August 29).
The council should reduce the affordable requirement on all private developments, regardless of numbers, to nil.
Affordable homes, council houses, can be built by the council with their large land bank for less than half the selling price of equivalent private housing.
The economical rents received would more than cover the interest payments to be made on the loans needed for the building costs.
Our council must show the will to fill this social need.
The private sector is obviously not going to build any affordable homes that will not make them a living profit.
Geoff Robb, Hunters Close, Dunnington .
• CITY OF York Council’s mantra that affordable housing percentages are targets which can be negotiated downwards is a fallacy. The ‘open book appraisal’ is impractical and unworkable. If it offered a genuine solution builders would have used it.
They have not. They are walking away from sites rather than getting involved in futile costly negotiations. The council’s negotiation system requires builders to expend huge sums to prepare architectural schemes just to be in a position to produce meaningful costings; but these appraisals may then be disputed, and builders have no confidence in the objectivity or impartiality of the district valuer who is supposed to arbitrate these matters.
And planning permission may not even be granted; or it may come with unacceptable conditions; or the landowner may not in the end agree to sell the freehold.
Furthermore, what may be viable for one builder is not viable for another.
Some firms are more efficient than others; some have better resources; some have working capital while others must operate on borrowed money.
Larger organisations enjoy economies of scale not available to smaller firms. It all makes a huge difference, which council officers have neither the qualifications nor experience to evaluate properly or fairly in a private competitive industry.
Matthew Laverack, Lord Mayor’s Walk, York.