Let’s make home dreams a re­al­ity

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Your Views - Ste­wart Jackson

This week I was pleased to sup­port the ef­forts of Cross Keys Homes in their ef­forts to pro­vide more af­ford­able hous­ing in the Gun­thorpe area. I don’t al­ways agree with them and will al­ways fight plans for un­suit­able de­vel­op­ments but they are one of the coun­try’s best hous­ing as­so­ci­a­tions and are in­no­va­tive in their ap­proach, es­pe­cially in fo­cus­ing on the life chances of their ten­ants and tak­ing a broader qual­ity of life ap­proach to young fam­i­lies in their prop­er­ties.

Over and above the chal­lenges aris­ing from Brexit, I be­lieve that the hous­ing cri­sis is the most im­por­tant po­lit­i­cal pri­or­ity in our coun­try and we must try to tackle it if we are to achieve the new Prime Min­is­ter’s aim of op­por­tu­nity for all and the alle­vi­a­tion of eco­nomic and so­cial in­equal­ity. The cost of hous­ing, fail­ures in the plan­ning sys­tem and mass im­mi­gra­tion have all had a big im­pact on the avail­abil­ity of good qual­ity homes. Too many peo­ple have also been cor­ralled into sub­stan­dard pri­vate rented ac­com­mo­da­tion too, of­ten at the mercy of a mi­nor­ity of greedy slum land­lords.

Na­tion­ally, fig­ures pub­lished last week by the Res­o­lu­tion Foun­da­tion show owner oc­cu­pa­tion rates in the last dozen years have plum­meted from 71% to 64%. Hav­ing a real stake in your com­mu­nity and the fu­ture must not only be the dream of the age­ing and the wealthy but all those who as­pire to work hard, get on and pay their own way, ir­re­spec­tive of job, back­ground or fam­ily cir­cum­stances surely?

For too long, we’ve also fo­cused on pro­vid­ing pub­licly-funded homes for the work­less and those on ben­e­fits rather than for younger work­ing peo­ple and fam­i­lies who strug­gle to get a foot on the hous­ing lad­der. The lack of op­por­tu­nity for young peo­ple in par­tic­u­lar to own their own homes gives rise to in­ter­gen­er­a­tional un­fair­ness and re­sent­ment. Older peo­ple have of course worked hard to af­ford to buy their own homes but there’s no doubt that it’s much tougher for young peo­ple now to do the same now, re­ly­ing as they do on the ‘bank of mum and dad’ and of­ten hav­ing to wait till their mid 30s to buy their own home and in­vari­ably need­ing a huge de­posit of say, £30,000 or more.

Things are chang­ing in the city: One rea­son I launched my own hous­ing pol­icy back in 2011 is be­cause there was a poverty of am­bi­tion in house­build­ing in Peter­bor­ough and we were build­ing to many ‘bog stan­dard” homes, too few prop­er­ties in the city cen­tre area and too few high end homes to at­tract business own­ers, en­trepreneurs and as­pir­ing mid­dle class folk who would drive jobs and pros­per­ity in our area.

None of these things are now hap­pen­ing. Help to Buy has been a huge boon, we have a pres­tige homes pol­icy, hous­ing as­so­ci­a­tions are strongly sup­port­ing shared own­er­ship schemes, the qual­ity of new homes has im­proved and the fo­cus on the need for a strong lo­cal link by prospec­tive ten­ants for mu­nic­i­pal hous­ing and the im­per­a­tive of sup­port­ing new hous­ing with ap­pro­pri­ate in­fra­struc­ture, is now much more to the fore. That said, some de­vel­op­ers - they know who they - are still fail­ing to pro­vide proper land­scap­ing and en­vi­ron­men­tal im­prove­ments for estates they have built and are happy to walk away once they’ve sold their cus­tomers their homes.

Warn­ing: I’m on your case and so will the gov­ern­ment be very soon!

The new Hous­ing Min­is­ter Gavin Bar­well has a big job on his hands. There’s a lot to do – re­leas­ing more gov­ern­ment land for con­struc­tion, us­ing the tax sys­tem to en­cour­age more house­build­ing, re­view­ing the Green Belt, lib­er­al­is­ing the plan­ning regime are just a few of his op­tions to drive up con­struc­tion rates.

Peter­bor­ough has led the way in the last few years and house prices in our area are much more af­ford­able than in many parts of the UK but let’s keep fo­cused on our ef­forts to ex­tend the dream of a prop­erty own­ing democ­racy to ev­ery­one who de­sires it.

Too manypeo­ple have also been cor­ralled into sub­stan­dard pri­vate rented ac­com­mo­da­tion too, of­ten at the mercy of a mi­nor­ity of greedy slum land­lords

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