Capital should be spent on homes

PUBLISHED: 09:00 07 February 2009 | UPDATED: 10:28 10 June 2010

It is one of the main planks of all development frameworks to include a section about developers and housing within its documentation. Whilst this is an admirable thing to plan for, the biggest problem that I can see is the manner in which the housing nee

It is one of the main planks of all development frameworks to include a section about developers and housing within its documentation. Whilst this is an admirable thing to plan for, the biggest problem that I can see is the manner in which the housing needs for local people is to be delivered in the foreseeable future.Social (council) housing is falling well below the needs of local people. This has come about ever since Maggie Thatcher introduced the right-to-buy legislation but prevented a replacement building programme to be put in place by the councils. The resulting loss of housing stock has now come home to roost especially in East Devon but, more appropriately, in Exmouth. Much is being made of the so-called "substandard" affordable properties that have been provided at the rear of the build-for-sale development in Cyprus Road on the Hazeldene site.There is a problem about the manner and placement of what some believe to be housing for the less well off, when it is placed near their homes. Many times the statement of objection includes such wording as that the placing of an affordable development is inappropriate because it needs to be near to a school, bus service, shops, doctor etc. Surely these provisions are as important for everyone and not just for the affordable section?Affordable is a very unfortunate word because something is only affordable if you can pay the price asked for it. The affordability of a property in this area is questionable for anyone who is either not in work and receiving at least £40k pa or in a pensionable position with an income derived by selling in high income areas in order to retire to Exmouth into a property which is "downsized" from their previous home.To become affordable, to local buyers, properties need to be selling in the £100k to £140k bracket. Even if there were many of them, the first or second-time buyer is effectively ruled out because of an inability to provide a suitable deposit without over-stretching their burden of repayments. Which developer will build for that price and be able to make a profit on their investment? If the price of the "build-to-sell" properties were raised to compensate, it could be done. Even then the resale price would mean that the first buyer would get a huge and probably unwarranted profit on their investment and prices would rise to again preclude the "affordable" property to be available to the next group.More property to rent is the best option, but will the developers look at the market in that manner? Probably not because they are in business to make money and providing a service to the homeless is not their responsibility, but that of the local housing authority.Councils in general, but East Devon in our case, ought to be made to pressure the government into allowing their built up capital reserves (from the income derived by selling council housing stock) to be used to provide new housing for rent, maybe like was done in the 70s and early 80s by buying unsold developers' stock.Ron Roberts,10 Littlemead Lane,Exmouth.

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