ECO-CAMPAIGNERS were shocked to discover only 155 affordable homes out of 10,758 in 18 new planning application across Coventry and Warwickshire will help first-time buyers get onto the housing ladder.
Research by members of Keep Our Greenbelt Green (KOGG) in Coventry discovered almost all the ‘discounted ownership’ homes – 150 – were at one location in Warwick District where a controversial planning permission has still not been finalised – a 2,500-home development at King’s Hill on the Coventry and Warwickshire border.
The remaining five discounted ownership properties will be part of a 40-home development in Coventry.
KOGG examined the types of homes planned for these 18 locations.
Of these, they say 16 were within Coventry where the city council only required 25 per cent of new homes to be affordable.
The remaining two sites were just over the Coventry border where Warwick District Council requires developers to provide 40 per cent of all new homes as affordable.
But the ‘affordable’ meaning is not clear, report campaigners, as it embraces three different categories – intermediate or shared-ownership homes, rental homes and discounted ownership homes.
Of the 10,758 homes planned 1,856 will be for rent, 961 for intermediate or shared ownership, and only 155 for discounted ownership.
KOGG spokesman Peter Maddock said: “The biggest proportion of so-called ‘affordable homes’ are rental properties for housing associations, while the shared ownership properties will be leasehold and have service rent restrictions, making them hard to sell on.
“So all in all things are not what they say on the tin and there are very few homes really planned to help first-time buyers get on to the housing ladder.”
Last year we reported government was considering intervening in the King’s Hill development amidst further delays and dire traffic congestion forecasts on main commuter routes.
Supported by some MPs and councillors, campaigners have lobbied ministers to ‘call in’ the scheme.
They want a review of future traffic projections for heavily-congested main arterial routes including the A45 and A46, and between the University of Warwick and the National Agricultural Centre at Stoneleigh.
A deserted medieval village, three Grade II listed buildings and an ancient woodland are also close to the site, resulting in archaeological and wildlife concerns.
Warwick District Council says it is pleased with its track record of providing affordable housing.
A spokeswoman told the Observer: “Although we are unable to comment on housing delivery in Coventry and the rest of Warwickshire, Warwick District Council is pleased of its track record in maintaining the delivery of 40 per cent affordable housing on all new developments, the highest in the county.
“With regards to housing delivery in general, Warwick District Council is also proud that it is both meeting and exceeding its housing requirement.
“As is the case with all local authorities across England, the council uses the guidance given by central government to determine the district’s housing need. The most recent Strategic Housing Market Assessments for our area have not identified a greater need for starter homes.
“The council does however recognise house prices in Warwick district are higher than the national average and in recent years has been at the forefront of a number of schemes to increase the number of homes available for social rent, affordable rent and for shared ownership to provide more options for local people.
“We have worked with our partner agencies to ensure the delivery of low cost housing and since the government lifted the restrictions on council borrowing, have started to build new council owned homes for the first time in many years.
“In our experience shared ownership has proved a successful and popular mechanism for giving those on low incomes and first time buyers the opportunity to get onto the housing ladder with wider market appeal than 100 per cent ownership options.”