It’s Catch 22 here in Shropshire. Over the years, we have built homes that are larger than average. That means that four in ten homes in the county have two or more spare bedrooms. Many older people would like to downsize but they can’t find suitable smaller housing in the villages and market towns they live in. That in turn means that growing families can’t move into bigger homes. The shortage of smaller houses means that younger people cannot afford homes near where they live and work. It also pushes up rents and prevents people getting onto the housing ladder.
The government has announced that it will allow local councils to borrow more £1 billion to build new council houses. Not a penny of this will be available to Shropshire.
This is yet another blow delivered by Westminster. Most housing developments in our county do not pay affordable housing contributions after ministers decreed that small developments should be exempt from the levee. Now it is using a statistical trick to bar us from accessing funds to build new council housing.
Shropshire needs 6,000 additional affordable houses to bring it up to the national average provision. That would all but wipe out the county’s housing waiting list. But rural areas like ours are not on the government’s radar.
Update 8 April 2018
Pickstock Homes has changed the site plan to deliver 10 affordable homes (14%) in the first phase of 72 homes (17/05189/FUL). It argues that to provide 11 homes, the 15% agreed by the South Planning Committee, “would require alterations to the considered layout in respect of changing semi-detached units and altering the dwelling arrangement.” I think what it means is that it doesn’t want to create a semi-detached house with one half being affordable and one being full market. Shropshire Council’s planners have agreed to press Pickstock for the full 15% of affordable homes.
The housing association conglomerate Connexus has submitted a new application for five bungalows on the green space between Sidney Road and Charlton Rise. A previous application for five bungalows on this site was rejected by a majority at a South Planning Committee meeting a couple of months ago. The plans are different in detail but not in principle.
I couldn’t attend the meeting of the South Planning Committee on 1 August. The committee considered three applications to build ten bungalows in Ludlow. Only one application for four bungalows was approved.