Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 12 January 2012

I am often asked: what is the biggest need in my constituency. The answer has remained the same for most of my tenure: the lack of access to affordable housing for local people, affordable housing to rent and to buy. The definition of affordable is hard to pin down but I prefer a common sense approach: can local people (as opposed to people selling houses in London and moving down) afford it.

The term should not just be applied to properties offered at less than market value on one or other of the current discount or joint ownership schemes, but more widely. It includes but is not limited to social housing for rent. The local people who need more affordable housing are from all backgrounds including young professionals and key workers, our children and grandchildren.

Most people aspire to own their own homes which fosters a sense of independence and responsibility that should be encouraged. Household incomes In Devon are 15% below national average and yet house prices are well above. Hence the problem.

The proposed new town at Sherford will help meet some of this pent-up demand, but there is a recognition that most Devon villages need a light sprinkling of new housing to keep them alive.

A problem has recently been encountered that needs to be tackled. To buy a house you need a mortgage.  It has been drawn to my attention that in the new, rather attractive, Parish Green development at Lee Mill the banks are being unhelpful. In relation to affordable houses that are discounted for local people to buy, they are insisting upon a hefty deposit perhaps as much as 25% before lending the balance. On properties that are not discounted they will lend 90% plus.

As very few young people can afford a 25% deposit this is beginning to thwart the whole idea of local discount schemes.

I am seeking to make contact with the major lenders through their professional association to see what can be done. As banks caught a cold (and gave us flu) by irresponsible lending in the first place I can understand caution, but they seem to have lurched from one excess to another with little balance in between. My aim is to try and get this sorted before a much larger tranche of properties hits the market over the next 2 years.

If anyone has any helpful suggestions I would be pleased to hear from you.

posted by Gary @ 13:40