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Updated: Guildford Announces ‘Ambitious Target’ For More Affordable Social Housing

Published on: 27 Jan, 2019
Updated on: 28 Jan, 2019

Guildford Borough Council’s Executive last Tuesday (January 22, 2019) approved continued investment in increasing the affordable housing stock in Guildford.

Guildford Borough Council plans to build 425 homes over the next six years up to 2025.

A press release from the council stated: “We are investing £74 million in building a mix of new homes for sale or affordable rent across our borough in the next four years.”

Cllr Philip Brooker

Cllr Philip Brooker, Lead Councillor for Housing and Development Management said: “We have set an ambitious target of delivering 425 new homes by 2025.

“In the last four years we have completed 92 new homes, with another 24 currently under construction.”

Key schemes were said to include the previous open-air car park site on Guildford Park Road where work to build 160 homes will start this year. 40% of the total, or 64 of the homes, are earmarked for affordable rent.

The government had announced in October 2018 that it was scrapping the cap on how much local authorities could borrow to build homes.

The council’s own website states “Due to a shortage of council and Housing Association properties, there are more households on the register than properties available. This means you may face a very long wait before being successful in receiving an offer of accommodation.”

It is understood that there are about 2,600 people on the council’s housing waiting list.

UPDATE: The Guildford Dragon NEWS had posed questions to Cllr Brooker. A response to the questions was received today (January 28).

The Dragon asked if it was right to call the ‘target of delivering 425 new homes by 2025’ ambitious when you are only addressing about 3% of the waiting list? Cllr Brooker said: “Our Submission Local Plan: Strategy and Sites’ sets a target of delivering 2,040 affordable homes by 31st March 2025. The homes we are aiming to provide will contribute to delivering this much larger target.”

The Dragon asked who would commercially gain from the selling of 96 market priced homes? Cllr Brooker responded to say that “The market priced homes will be developed by the Council and the proceeds used to offset the cost of the new Multi-Storey Car Park that we need to build to release the land for affordable housing.” UPDATE

Cllr Angela Goodwin

Cllr Angela Goodwin, Liberal Democrats housing spokesperson and Surrey County Councillor for Guildford North division, said: “We have an ambitious – but achievable – target to build 3,000 new council and social houses over the next 10 years: [we will] almost double the amount of council and social housing across Guildford borough to 20% of the housing stock by 2034.

“Working within the constraints of the Local Plan space can be found without sacrificing additional green belt. For example, GBC could work more closely with developers to build new council houses on large private developments as part of the affordable housing percentage, and purchase suitable urban brownfield sites, to build on itself, using compulsory purchase powers if necessary.”

Cllr Tony Rooth

Cllr Tony Rooth, leader of the Independents Alliance, and former leader of the council at Guildford Borough Council (GBC), said: “Guildford really needs more social housing. Social housing means homes for social rent at around 50 per cent of our high market rents . ‘Affordable housing’ is a misnomer as it covers higher [up to 80% ] ‘affordable rents’ and tends towards part ownership.

“New social housing would be financed by public borrowing and located in mixed tenure developments with market homes to help finance the social housing . The council acquired its 5,000 plus council houses under my leadership and needs to build more to make an impact on Guildford’s lack of social housing.”

Cllr Susan Parker

Cllr Susan Parker, leader of the Guildford Greenbelt Group at GBC, said: “We are enormously in favour of building social housing in the urban area. This is what we need as a borough: within the urban area we need homes for the underprivileged, for the young, and for key workers, not more sprawling executive housing estates gobbling up our countryside. As a result, we welcome this initiative from Guildford Borough Council.

“At the Examination in Public last summer I proposed that the entire allocation of new homes should be genuinely affordable. The reaction from the developers in the room was, of course, horror. ”

The Labour Party at Guildford Borough Council had not commented at the time of publication.

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Responses to Updated: Guildford Announces ‘Ambitious Target’ For More Affordable Social Housing

  1. Martin Elliott Reply

    January 27, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    So it’s a “planned” increase by x4 to take advantage of the government finally acknowledging the crisis.

    I’m very surprised that such an announcement doesn’t refer to the targets set in the submitted Local Plan, and its supporting documents.

    I’m afraid with the lack of transparency, a number of unanswered questions, independent reviews and government examination and market changes perhaps nobody has any confidence in how many homes are needed in total, let alone “affordable” or “social”.

  2. K White Reply

    January 27, 2019 at 10:16 pm

    So why is available land, e.g., in Walnut Tree Close, being awarded to developers for student accommodation? This land should be used for social and other residential housing.

    • Paul Spooner Reply

      January 28, 2019 at 6:48 am

      The answer is simple. GBC does not own the land. Landowners sell to developers who make planning applications and GBC planners must follow planning law in determining applications.

      Where GBC has control of land we are prioritising affordable and social housing. We are looking at all our land holding to increase our stock for social rent. The Local Plan also sets 40% affordable for all development.

      Paul Spooner is the Conservative leader of Guildford Borough Council.

      • John Perkins Reply

        January 29, 2019 at 10:34 am

        How much of the “40% affordable for all development” has been achieved do far?

  3. Ben Paton Reply

    January 28, 2019 at 8:13 am

    A typical press release from GBC in which it sticks its own adjective onto its performance.

    “Ambitious”? 425 houses over five or six years amounts to about 80 houses per annum. That’s less than 2% of the stock of houses it owns at present. How many houses will it Sell off over the same five year period? Will the number of new council houses exceed council houses sold? Will the net new houses move the needle? Only if GBC marks its own homework.

    And the Lib Dem “opposition” has rolled in behind the council on this! That explains why we need Independent local candidates for the council. There’s no real “opposition” only group think.

    • George Potter Reply

      January 28, 2019 at 5:39 pm

      What on earth is Ben Paton talking about? The Lib Dems have said, in the article itself, that they want to see 3,000 new council houses built over the next ten years.

      Regardless of Mr Paton’s opinion of the Lib Dems more generally, it’s stretching the facts pretty far to claim that their position and that of the ruling Conservatives are the same on this issue.

      • Ben Paton Reply

        January 29, 2019 at 9:09 am

        It was not clear to me from the article what the Lib Dem spokesperson was talking about. Is there a web link to a policy statement by the Lib Dems that explains?

        What is the breakdown of the 3,000 council and social houses that she mentions? Are all the 3,000 houses social housing? Does the target of 3,000 apply to just the Borough of Guildford or to the whole of Surrey or to some subdivision of Surrey? If the position of the Lib Dems on GBC differs from the Conservatives I should be interested to learn how. Have the Lib Dems ever voted against the Conservatives on this matter?

      • Jim Allen Reply

        January 29, 2019 at 10:13 am

        No point in building “council housing” if it can be sold off to tenants as soon as it is built. We need to stop council house sales and ensure those who provide our essential services; postmen, dustbin men, ambulance drivers etc, aren’t lumbered with mortgages they can’t afford and the houses are not occupied by high earners taking advantage of low, or no, maintenance costs.

        There is a certain balance missing from our housing stock and I see no political party or manifesto providing such a balance as current legislation stands

    • Shelley Grainger Reply

      January 29, 2019 at 10:21 am

      “Independent” in what way? Do you think the three ex-political party members standing in May’s elections are leaving behind their values with their party memberships?

      It’s a pretence at “independence” to disguise personal ambition, or because they can’t get along with their parties. Set your expectations to low.

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