ONE thousand new affordable homes could be built in Brighton and Hove within two years under an ambitious new scheme revealed by council leader Warren Morgan.
The scheme, thought to be the first of its kind in the country, would see Brighton and Hove City Council team up with a leading housing association to provide homes for rent or buy at levels linked to the National Living Wage rather than soaring house prices.
It is hoped that work on the first scheme could begin as early as the new year.
Coun Morgan said the scheme would put the dream of renting or owning a home within reach of thousands of lower incomes workers and families in the city at a time when property prices have risen 11 per year in the past year.
He said the scheme could be funded through low-interest loans similar to the deal which helped finance the i360 along with resources the council is already allocated for affordable housing linked to major developments.
The Labour leader said the soaring housing market in the city had rendered an existing commitment to provide 40 per cent affordable homes in new developments as “meaningless”.
The homes will be in addition to the 500 new council homes that the Labour administration pledged in their election manifesto.
No sites have been confirmed as yet but it is anticipated the first raft will be built on housing association land.
The properties would be protected from national right to buy rules, set to be extended to housing association homes during this parliament, and will be allocated to residents by the council.
- Teenager arrested on suspicion of raping girl, 16, near cricket ground
- Royal Marine to finally leave prison after murder conviction quashed
- Driver of light-coloured estate car could hold vital clues to serious crash
- All change at the top as new chairman announced for West Pier
- Dog attacker let go by police but could still face RSPCA prosecution
The Argus understands that the partnership would be with the Hyde Group, who have been responsible for a number of high-profile local developments including One Hove Park, the conversion of the London Road Co-op and Open Market and the New England Quarter.
Councillor David Gibson, Green housing spokesman, said his party welcomed any move to tackle the city's housing affordability crisis but said "the devil was in the detail".
He added: “Rents at 40 per cent of income would be an improvement on many parts of the private sector at present, yet are still much higher than lower earners on the living wage can afford.
“Even the so called affordable rents of the 500 new council houses will be too high.
“We’re concerned that there’s nothing in these proposals for the lowest earners or the 10,000 people that can only afford social council rents in our city and my hope is that in the interests of fairness Labour will look to help low earners as well as middle-income households.”
He added that the Green group is calling for living rents reflecting 25 per cent of people’s income with their proposal set to be discussed at this week’s full council meeting.
JOINT VENTURE IN ATTEMPT TO SOLVE PROPERTY CRISIS
Comment by Council leader Warren Morgan
HERE in Brighton and Hove we have long had a policy of requiring developers to provide 40 per cent “affordable” homes in new developments, below market rents or prices.
As market rates have continued to soar, this policy has become meaningless as it is never delivered in full and what is delivered is not affordable; it may be below market rate but is still far out of reach for many.
So I am proposing a joint venture with a major housing association in the city, bringing together their sites, and the deferred funding for the affordable element of new projects by major developers that the council can draw in.
Together with prudent borrowing at preferential rates, we can and will build thousands of new flats and houses for the key workers our city, our public services and our local businesses need.
Through this joint company we will build homes that can be sold or rented at a maximum of 40 per cent of people’s income.
We will still build 500 or more council homes to cater for those for whom owning or renting even these properties will be beyond their means.
This announcement forms part of our plan to tackle every aspect of housing in the city, delivering more homes that people can afford, drawing in more income for services from council tax on new properties, getting a fairer deal for tenants in the private rented sector and more.
Our city cannot grow and prosper if people can’t afford to live here, and despite everything we face in terms of cuts I am determined that we do something to make a home of your own a reality for as many residents as possible.