Published on Wednesday, 14th March 2018

 

In a good bit of investigative journalism, the Guardian has revealed how low the proportion of affordable housing is in new developments in many of this country's biggest cities (https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/mar/05/british-cities-developers-affordable-housing-manchester-sheffield). Over the last two years, permission has been granted for more than 14,000 new homes in the Manchester City Council area, but of those, not one is for affordable rent, and only a handful will be available for shared ownership. The picture is not dramatically different in many other core cities, with the proportion of affordable housing being 1.4% in Sheffield, 3.4% in Leeds and 3.8% in Nottingham. The only figure from London is for the City of Westminster where it stands at 12.4%.

 

All these authorities have policies requiring a certain percentage of affordable housing in larger developments, but all are largely waving these requirements as a result of viability assessments: national regulations allow developers to bypass these obligations if they can demonstrate that they would result in development not been sufficiently profitable.

 

Portsmouth too has been affected by viability arguments, but not on this scale. We have also seen some 100% affordable schemes go through, including in Fratton Road and by Fratton station.

 

As we move to this year's council elections, the Labour Party, in particular, is attacking the City Council for not providing more affordable housing. Of course, this ignores the fact that the largest council house building programme in a generation is now taking place. It is also worth remembering that all of the local authorities in the Guardian article – apart from Westminster – are Labour controlled. These cities may very well have good reasons for acting as they are; to my mind what this article illustrates is the gulf between campaign statements and governing reality.

 

Tags: Housing