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Letter: Where is the Promised Social Housing?

Published on: 14 Jun, 2021
Updated on: 14 Jun, 2021

From: Howard Smith

Vice-chair Guildford Labour

Two years after they came to power, the R4GV/Liberal Democrat administration at Guildford Borough Council have finally revealed a draft of their town centre Masterplan with details on how the Guildford-owned land in the heart of the town could be developed to the benefit of its residents.

This, as has been said by others, could more easily be described as a riverside masterplan, as much of the area focussed on is along the Wey. It includes the Town Wharf and Bedford Wharf areas, Millmead and along the river towards and including Woodbridge Road and Woodbridge Meadows.

It is excellent and very welcome to see these plans finally coming into the public arena after many years of inaction. However, despite figures of up to 4,000 new dwellings being built there, it was notable for the absence of the one thing that could address the chronic housing problem we have in Guildford: Social Housing.

The plan mentions what can be imagined to be luxury apartments along the river itself, and an element of “affordable” housing further out, but of course, “affordable” bench-marked, as it is, against Guildford house prices and not against income, is not really affordable to anyone who needs truly affordable housing.

If we are to improve the prospects of our young people and key workers in getting a decent home to live in and eventually onto the housing ladder – not to mention improving the lives of the 2,500 families currently on the housing waiting list – then it is critical that room is found for social housing in this plan.

As far as I’m aware, R4GV have never made any commitment to provide social housing (several of their leaders are understood to be landlords themselves), however the Liberal Democrats made promises two years ago to build 3,000.

We need to see some evidence that the current coalition administration is going to do something on housing that will be of benefit to all of Guildford, not just for the better off, and make a commitment to social housing in our town. And this in our view, would be the ideal place to start.

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test One Response to Letter: Where is the Promised Social Housing?

  1. Ben Paton Reply

    June 14, 2021 at 11:10 pm

    What has the Labour Party contributed to the debate about social housing and population projections and housing “needs”? Almost nothing.

    The Labour councillors tamely went along with the Mansbridge/Spooner Local Plan without scrutinising the population projections or the housing target.

    The Local Plan does not promise much by way of social housing. Why not? Because the Labour Party never held its authors to account.

    The Lib Dems’ “promises” to build 3,000 social homes have proved to be empty election rhetoric.

    Some of us have been pointing out for years and years that the Local Plan does not address the only real housing shortage – the shortage of social housing. The Labour councillors blithely voted for a disastrous Local Plan that is a charter for developers.

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