Say no to de­mand for more houses

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Points Of View -

It’s a sad state of af­fairs that when Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil is told to al­lo­cate a fur­ther 1,250 homes to its lo­cal plan, which is al­ready far too high when con­sid­er­ing the lo­cal in­fra­struc­ture, it of course com­plies.

Only last week Com­mu­ni­ties Sec­re­tary Sa­jid Javid said the gov­ern­ment was de­ter­mined to build where peo­ple want to live, re­gard­less of the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.

So as far as lo­cal con­sul­ta­tions and pub­lic op­tion is con­cerned, don’t bother, it’s a to­tal waste of time. We are en­gaged in a process that has al­ready been de­cided. The ex­tra homes will of course be built.

In our area we ap­pear to be at a dis­ad­van­tage to other parts of the coun­try. We com­ply to­tally to gov­ern­ment pol­icy, while some coun­cils have not even compiled a plan and oth­ers are out of date.

Kent was left to sort out Op­er­a­tion Stack with very lit­tle fi­nan­cial help from the gov­ern­ment, then forced into the crack­pot idea of a huge lorry park.

So yes Kent, for a sup­posed Tory heart­land, gets a bad deal from this gov­ern­ment.

All the many thou­sands of houses are not for lo­cal needs. Thou­sands of peo­ple are be­ing drawn to the area which can­not cope with this in­flux. The villages are be­ing ru­ined and Ash­ford town cen­tre has al­ready lost the plot. In other words, we don’t mat­ter and the pow­ers-that-be don’t care. John Dun­ton Ash­ford get on the prop­erty lad­der? The re­port makes an as­sump­tion that there is a 5% im­prove­ment in affordability, in­creas­ing the hous­ing stock needed, with­out any jus­ti­fi­ca­tion as to how this might be achieved. The as­sump­tion is that the gov­ern­ment will some­how make prop­erty cheaper, but Help to Buy and other schemes have not made prop­erty more af­ford­able, on the con­trary the sit­u­a­tion has be­come worse.

If you are a house builder, why would you build houses at lower profit mar­gins? There is no pres­sure to do so. Plan­ning per­mis­sions are not taken away if you sit on a land bank. With no power to make house builders de­velop at a quicker rate, sup­ply is un­likely to ex­ceed de­mand and prices will re­main high.

Ash­ford coun­cil is now propos­ing over 15,000 ad­di­tional houses be­fore 2031, at a rate of 786 dwellings per an­num. Over the years 2011 to 2015 the re­port shows that only 365 prop­er­ties on av­er­age were built in the bor­ough.

So how are Ash­ford coun­cil go­ing to en­sure that this hap­pens? Giv­ing out more per­mis­sions doesn’t make it hap­pen. I be­lieve there are al­ready over 10,000 on the coun­cil’s books.

Lastly this re­port is pri­mar­ily based on sta­tis­tics up to 2014, pro­jec­tions for a pop­u­la­tion growth that might be so far from the mark as to be em­bar­rass­ing if cen­tral gov­ern­ment tries to con­trol ex­ter­nal mi­gra­tion and the econ­omy slows down.

Plan­ning Prac­tice Guid­ance gives coun­cils the right to say why they think the rates of growth in the Strate­gic Hous­ing Mar­ket As­sess­ment are un­achiev­able and to project lower lev­els of growth. Isn’t it time our coun­cil stood up for the ex­ist­ing res­i­dents, (as well as those who will move here in the fu­ture) and chal­lenge this end­less in­crease in hous­ing num­bers? Martin Hop­kins Ken­ning­ton

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