From an article published in the Keighley News
A housing developer wants to cut the amount of planned social housing in Eastburn by a third.
Bid to slash affordable housing in Eastburn prompts call for policy review.
Miller Homes will today ask Bradford Council to reduce the number of affordable houses earmarked for its 147-home estate from 29 to 20.
The application, for the site off Main Road next to Airedale Hospital, has prompted a ward councillor to call for a review of the council’s social housing strategy.
Craven ward councillor Adrian Naylor said Miller Homes’s request highlighted a serious problem that could affect future efforts to increase the amount of affordable housing in villages across the district.
He says many social landlords, such as housing associations, cannot afford to take on such properties because the Government’s rent cap limits how much they can charge tenants.
Developers of major housing projects are expected to build a certain proportion of affordable housing, as part of their section 106 contributions to local services.
The homes are often sold at a reduced price to a social landlord, who will then rent them to young people who have grown up in the villages or work locally but cannot afford market prices to buy homes.
The problem, according to Cllr Naylor, is that banks will not lend social landlords money to buy the houses because the subsequent rents would not cover the loan repayments.
A report due to be discussed today by Bradford’s regulatory and appeals committee states that Miller Homes approached 15 ‘registered providers’ but not one was willing to take on 29 affordable homes.
One has offered to pay £1.56 million for 20 of the units, a mix of two and three-bedroom homes, which could then be offered for rent or shared ownership.
Housing officers regard the offer as “well-founded and justified”, taking into account the significant financial constraints being experienced by registered providers in the current climate.
Cllr Naylor said: “If the economy is causing social landlords not to be able to build properties in the more expensive areas, then we need an urgent review of Bradford Council’s social housing policy.
“We could end up seeing areas such as Silsden, Steeton and Eastburn having a high number of executive homes, but no affordable homes to go with them.
“Young people will lose the ability to live where they were born and bred, or work. This could be a problem for years to come.”