Council's housing 'strategy' needs more specific targets, say opposition

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

The council has unanimously agreed to adopt a housing strategy which aims to drive up the number of affordable homes in the borough.

The statistics around home ownership amongst young people are ‘truly shocking’ said Ross McWilliams (Con, Cox Green), lead member for housing.

The average house price in RBWM is approximately £476,000, which is over 15 times higher than the average UK salary (£30,420).

Cllr McWilliams presented a draft Housing Strategy 2021-2026 to the full council on Tuesday, outlining how the council would like to move forward with social and affordable housing.

He explained that the intention of the paper was really to put ‘flesh on the bones’ of the Borough Local Plan, which has already set in stone a requirement for 40 per cent affordable housing.

The paper was received well by most councillors – although Cllr Simon Werner (Lib Dem, Pinkneys Green), leader of the opposition, said he felt it did not go into enough detail to be called a ‘strategy’.

Cllr Leo Walters (Con, Bray) agreed and said: “The paper is full of good intentions – but I cannot actually see how in practice this will solve the problem.”

Cllr Donna Stimson (Con, St Mary’s), lead member for climate change and sustainability, praised the paper for its broad scope.

It covers a range of aim, including tackling deprivation, health and mental health, help for people with disabilities and a commitment to net-zero emissions.

“(The paper) is very aspirational, but there’s nothing wrong with aspirational,” she said.

Some of the aims of the draft Housing Strategy 2021-2026 are to:

  • Assess the needs of traveller communities seek appropriate sites to support communities
  • Push forward neighbourhood renewal projects
  • Support housing designs that promote better health, including mental health – particularly green open spaces
  • Incentivise developers to bring forward schemes that support the borough’s climate change obligations to achieve net-zero by 2050, including supporting carbon-neutral and carbon-positive technologies in new homes
  • Work with private landlords to retrofit existing stock with zero carbon tech-nologies
  • Tackle digital inequality by working with housing associations to improve opportunities for super-fast broadband
  • Provide adaptations for people with disabilities
  • Create a coalition of landlords to provide temporary accommodation to support the homeless into long-term housing solutions
  • Consider the purchase of temporary accommodation to replace those leased from the private sector
  • Improve access to the private rented sector for the homeless.

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