Editor: In her recent comment piece, Geeta Nanda writes: “The need to build more affordable homes has never been so urgent”. I profoundly disagree. It is the need to build more homes that has never been so urgent.
The main reason for the housing crisis we have today was the foolish introduction by the Blair administration of the utopian affordable homes quotient in housing developments.
A developer, having acquired or optioned a site, then wastes two years or more negotiating the local authority’s unviable 50% affordable homes demand down to a viable 15% to 20%, before a brick is laid.
The affordable homes requirement should be abolished and replaced by a levy per consented housing unit, set by the local authority, having regard to local house values, with the monies ring-fenced and then applied to the development of social housing on more suitable sites.
Furthermore, the developer should pay an additional escalating levy if its development has not started within two years of consent being granted.
In the real world, the rich don’t want to live next to the poor and the poor don’t want to live next to the rich. A levy per consented unit scheme will more effectively make the rich pay for the privilege of funding housing for the poor to live elsewhere, although ideally just a short bus ride away, so that the jobs created on the “rich estate“ can be conveniently reached.
Anthony H Ratcliffe, partner, Ratcliffes Chartered Surveyors