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Letter: GBC Has Led the Way in Planning For the Right Type of Housing

Published on: 22 Oct, 2017
Updated on: 22 Oct, 2017

From Tony Rooth

Conservative borough councillor for Pilgrims

In response to: We Should All Discuss And Consider Local Political Issues

Guildford Borough Council has a long-standing commitment towards providing “homes for all”, especially affordable homes and council housing.

The council wants homes built which young and old alike can afford to buy or rent. Hence, our planning policies require developers to provide a percentage of homes on new developments to be affordable housing – currently 35%, increasing to 40%, in the new draft Local Plan.

The draft plan also recognises the need for different types, sizes and tenures of homes required to meet the needs of our community. Guildford doesn’t need more new large houses. Hence, the draft plan sets out the balance of new affordable homes required as 40% one bed, 30% 2-bed, 25% 3-bed and only 5% 4-bed homes.

The borough council is one of few councils in the South East (together with Waverley and Woking) to retain and control its own (council) housing despite being required to pay £190 million to the Government in order to do so. The council still owns over 5,000 units of social housing which are rented to local people.

In 2012 Guildford was among the first English councils to start up a programme of building affordable housing, and the first in Surrey to complete new homes. All our new builds are flats or 2/3 bed homes.

Guildford has also taken the bold step of setting up its own wholly owned housing company. The council will use its land and prudential borrowing powers to invest in the company, which will focus on regeneration and development of brownfield sites and purchase of existing properties for the provision of mixed tenure accommodation.

These measures alone won’t solve the serious housing shortage in Guildford but show that GBC has led the way in giving direction and support for smaller, affordable and council housing for our residents.

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