Sefton Council – Draft Strategic Housing Market Assessment Update 2019

The draft report, which is available for comment, is on Sefton Council’s website – see link below:-

www.sefton.gov.uk/shma

This is the general comment I have made in response to the draft assessment:-

I remain concerned that Sefton is not targeting sufficient social housing, single level housing for the elderly/those with disabilities and 1 and 2 bedroomed properties in general both social housing and the ordinary housing market.

At the same time the Council is pursuing building on Green Belt/high grade agricultural land whilst not achieving sufficient housing in the categories I have mentioned above. It is bad enough losing high grade agricultural land to development but doing so whilst not addressing actual housing need in the Borough is particularity upsetting.

I remain far from convinced that building more 3, 4 and 5 bedroomed properties for the normal housing market will in any meaningful way meet actual housing need.

If you wish to comment you can do so by e-mailing this address:-

local.plan@sefton.gov.uk

Housing ‘Viability Assessments’ the developers tool to back out of affordable housing

www.cpre.org.uk/media-centre/latest-news-releases/item/4785-Rural-communities-denied-affordable-housing-as-developers-exploit-loophole?utm_source=cpre&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=viable_villages&utm_medium=email&utm_source=engagingnetworks&utm_campaign=2018-viability-report-email&utm_content=2018+viability+campaigns+email

This is a serious problem and I recall seeing builders trying to back out of building the ‘required’ number of affordable homes on development sites during my time on Sefton Council’s Planning Committee. Oh and yes the term ‘affordable homes’ is vague and open to differing interpretations itself.

So have a look at the link above from CPRE (Council for the Protection of Rural England) as their video captures one route developers use to maximise their profit at the expense of the kind of homes communities actually need.

Yes I know, regular readers may recall that I have had my issues with CPRE’s approach to housing matters in Sefton Borough in the past but this campaign is spot on.

Wrong Houses being being built in the wrong places? CPRE has hit a very important nail on the head here

www.cpre.org.uk/media-centre/latest-news-releases/item/4675-the-wrong-homes-in-the-wrong-places?utm_medium=email&utm_source=engagingnetworks&utm_campaign=campaigns-update-oct-2017-nonmembers&utm_content=Campaigns+Update+2017+Oct+-+non+members

The Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) has the story on its web site – see link above

I have long thought that here in Sefton Borough we are not addressing local housing needs despite Sefton Council allocating acre after acre of the highest grades of agricultural land for more new housing.

My focus has not only been on protecting high grade agricultural land from development (because it grows the food that we eat!) but also, where we do build houses, they really do need to meet local need. Like many folk I see building more 3 and 4 bedroom houses as being a part of the problem not a solution to the UK housing shortage.

No the real housing need is affordable housing, social housing for rent and housing suitable for our aging population i.e. more single level accessible housing.

The CPRE stance in many way mirrors my own concerns although they seem to have missed out housing for the elderly, which must be a national housing matter not just one related to Sefton Borough. Build housing that the elderly want to move into and it will free up family housing; it’s not rocket science!

I’ve had my issues with CPRE in the past in that I thought they were too laid back with regard to house building on prime agricultural land and Green Belt in Sefton. I also questioned their political leanings when they attended a meeting in Crosby that was not properly party politically balanced. But I think they are on the right track here with regard to their Wrong homes, Wrong Place campaign.

Trouble is governments of all colours have been making a mess of housing policy for generations now.

And only very recently a Conservative Social Care minister jumped back into the so called ‘dementia tax’ solution so favoured by the Tories at the last election and which all but sunk them in June 2017.

It seems the Tories are still arguing that homes are not assets for parents to pass on to their children. That’ll go down well with the voters – NOT!

My point here is that the Tories are still on the wrong path as they remain blind to the need for single level housing that is truly accessible. They don’t seem to understand that older people would move house if there was somewhere they could move to as they get older, at a reasonable cost. As there is not enough such housing many don’t or can’t move out of 3 and 4 bedroom houses because they can’t afford to.

Thanks to Roy Connell for his contribution to this posting

A Brexit Nation – Just what have we become?

As our NHS crumbles before our very eyes, as social care for the old and the vulnerable crumbles with it, as our world gets dangerously more warm by the day, the national debate (as presented to us by the press) often seems to be about far, far less pressing issues.

The colour of our next passport, whether we should recommission the Royal Yacht Britannia, the troubles of TV’s Bake Off and how we can keep out anyone from the UK particularly if they have anything but white skin and can’t speak the Queen’s English.

Without doubt the UK is taking leave of it senses and its priorities seem utterly bizarre.

The Tories will see off the NHS (which depends heavily on doctors and nurses from across the world simply to function) soon just by starving it of the funds and staff it so desperately needs. They will push the costs of health care by default (and social care for the elderly and vulnerable in particular) onto families. This is happening now, it will be worse tomorrow and next week, etc. etc. Is this not a pressing crisis?

Our world is getting dangerously warm whilst we fiddle around the edges not really getting to grips with what needs to be done to save our plant for future generations. Is this not a major crisis?

It really is about time we sobered up. Our all but racist society is shameful, our sitting back and watching as millions of refugees die is a national disgrace and the unwillingness to fund health and social care properly is utterly bizarre because we are quite literally shooting ourselves in the foot and we know it!

When was the last time we had a Prime Minister we could have any collective confidence in? There was a spectacularly false dawn in this regard when Tony Blair got elected because even those of us who did not vote for him thought he was about to bring about the kind of serious change the UK needed. He had his moments of course but then involved us in illegal wars that have brought terrorism to the streets of the UK. His appalling legacy far out-ways the good things he did.

But can you think of another PM of recent times that folks had any kind of collective confidence in? Wilson possibly in his early years?

Without doubt the UK is facing many a major crisis at present:-

Funding the NHS
Paying for Social Care
An over heated and dysfunctional housing market
Deeply worrying energy supply problems
Global warming
An inability to defend the Country
Racial intolerance
An aging population

And the colour of our next passport and whether the Royal Yacht Britannia is recommissioned etc. are supposedly big issues to us? How low will this once proud, caring and open-minded Country have to go before we take notice of the real troubles that are all around us?

Is there a housing shortage? Well both yes and no seem to be the right answer

www.insidepropertytoday.com/the-uk-doesnt-have-a-housing-shortage/?pref=nhp&utm_source=NHP+Contacts&utm_campaign=6c5ed084b7-Nethouseprices_NewsletterINV1_27_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_23a08fd740-6c5ed084b7-132242857

The link above is worth clicking and the document is interesting reading.

Westminster politicians keep on telling us we are short of housing, so much so that many folk simply do not question whether they are right any more.

This research confirms to me what I have always thought i.e. we have too much of the wrong types of housing. The problem areas are too few 1 & 2 bed properties and not enough affordable and social housing.

On this basis and taking Sefton Council’s astonishingly poor Local Plan into account why on earth are we going to end up with masses of 3 & 4 bedroom properties being built on high grade agricultural land and Green Belt in the Borough when what we really need is not that kind of property at all! Sefton’s housing need reflects the national situation but our daft Labour-run Council just does not see the picture. Why?

My feelings are that Labour have been led by the nose by planning officers and have not taken the time to understand the Borough’s real housing issues at all. Maybe there is some of following the national trend going on within Sefton Labour too; a simplistic let’s get on and build houses (any houses?) and worry about the consequences later? Whatever the case our Council leadership have got it very wrong as few 1 & 2 bedroom properties will be built, affordable housing has all but been kicked into the long grass and there don’t seem to any plans at all to bring forward any social housing developments.

Where was the innovation within the Sefton Local Plan to convert unused retail space into dwellings for example on a significant scale. To have taken this course could have taken pressure off the Green Belt. But no innovation just a plan to build more 3 and 4 bedroom houses based on dubious population stats on high grade agricultural land!

You simply could not make this farce up.