Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The Housing League Table

Homeless charity Shelter recently criticised local authorities in the area when they released a league table of the performance on meeting targets for affordable homes.

In Reading experts claim 832 affordable homes are needed every year, but only 270 are being delivered.

Spokesperson Brendan Murphy said,
"Housing shortages affect everyone, from young people forced to live with a parent, to others having to grow up in families who are stuck on council housing waiting lists for years and years, or people stuck in temporary accommodation."
Reading Borough Council defended their record, stating that the figures
"make absolutely no allowance for the economic downturn and the subsequent slowdown in the housing market and completely ignore the fact that in tightly bounded areas like Reading, there is little suitable land remaining available for development."
However this doesn't excuse the other local authorities in Berkshire.

In West Berkshire, despite being 5 places above Reading in their chart, Shelter's Chief Executive called on the council to "work far harder to ensure more homes are provided if it ever hopes to meet the needs of the local population." Lead councillor for Housing and Develeopment Cllr Alan Law commented that the Newbury-based authority is 'exceeding' requirements in the government's South-East plan.

Newbury MP Richard Benyon argued that the Conservative-run council is 'doing a good job', but LibDem PPC David Rendel commented that his office is constantly overrun with people making a 'huge clamour' in a desperate scramble for housing.

In Wokingham Cllr David Lee blamed government restrictions on back garden development and 'flawed' planning regulations for a 350-home per year shortfall on target levels. However it appears the criticism obviously stung as the borough website almost immediately released an announcement of a Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA).

Reading West parliamentary candidate for the LibDems Cllr Daisy Benson (who has a special interest in housing issues) attacked the Conservative 'right-to-buy' initiatives of the past as a hugely damaging policy.

She says this created an inbalance which reduced the flexibility of the housing market as too many properties were taken out of the rented sector, as well as having the effect that many family-sized council homes were sold off at below market price, while central government now retains greater control over rental incomes from council-owned housing stock.

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Shelter's regional housing league table for South East England (out of 67 councils):

#7 Slough: waiting list 7.39 years, 38% affordable housing delivered - details
#9 West Berkshire: waiting list 9.07 years, 37% affordable housing delivered - details
#14 Reading: waiting list 7.38 years, 32% affordable housing delivered - details
#16 Bracknell Forest: waiting list 9.38 years, 30% affordable housing delivered - details
#35 Wokingham: waiting list 16.93 years, 20% affordable housing delivered - details
#49 RBWM: waiting list 5.02 years, 11% affordable housing delivered - details

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