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Call for more affordable homes after report claims it would take almost 30 years to clear backlog on the housing waiting list in Lichfield and Burntwood if current building rates continue

A report has claimed that it would take almost 30 years to clear the housing waiting list backlog in Lichfield and Burntwood if affordable properties carry on being built at the current rate.

The figures came to light as part of a planning application for new homes on land in Kings Bromley.

As part of the submission, an affordable housing statement was drawn up by Tetlow King Planning to help make the case for the development to be given the green light.

Lichfield District Council House
Lichfield District Council House

It revealed that in the past 13 years, Lichfield District Council has delivered “a woeful” 541 affordable homes, with 1,243 people on the housing waiting list in April 2017.

The company said that such a backlog would take more than 29 years to clear if the local authority continued supplying affordable homes at the current rate.

Cllr Ian Pritchard, Cabinet member for economic growth, environment and development services, admitted the number of appropriate properties being built had been lower than the council had wanted.

“We negotiate with housing developers to ensure new housing developments provide housing opportunities for a wider range of people in line with our locally adopted policies,” he said.

Cllr Ian Pritchard
Cllr Ian Pritchard

“However, the amount of affordable houses being built in recent years has been lower than we would have wished.

“Many factors feed into this, including a slow down in the number of housing developments being completed following the credit crunch.  

“The numbers have, in part, also been affected by viability assessments. These assessments look at the profitability of a housing development, taking into account the cost of land, materials and labour, connecting services to the site and more.

“If an independent district valuer finds that a development will not return a sufficient profit for the development to go ahead, agreed affordable housing numbers can be reduced legally.”

“A really terrible performance”

But Cllr Colin Ball, Labour representative for Curborough, said Cllr Pritchard and his colleagues on the Conservative Cabinet needed to take a tougher line with developers.

“This is a really terrible performance from Lichfield District Council on affordable homes, especially as many of these homes will be on very high Tory government-defined ‘affordable’ rents,” he said. 

Colin Ball
Cllr Colin Ball

“What we need across the district is some genuinely affordable social rent homes for families and young people.

“It’s also shocking that Councillor Pritchard is excusing the poor performance by hiding behind viability assessments.

“As anyone who has had any dealings, as I have had over many years, with developers, knows, they will always try to pull the wool over local councils on this. I think that we need to take a much more robust line on this issue with developers.

“I will also be calling for this issue to be added urgently to the agenda of the community, housing and health overview and scrutiny committee.  Then, we can ensure a full review of the issues involved and push hard for more genuinely affordable social housing for families and young people across the district.”

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9 Comments

  1. John Griffin

    7th March, 2019 at 10:21 am

    And how many affordable homes in current projected developments? Who was the Tory Cllr who wanted 4/5 bed homes for prospective Tory voters?

  2. Philip Allso

    7th March, 2019 at 11:40 am

    Do I not recall that LDC wanted to form its own development and construction buisness to help supplement income? Here is the perfect oppertunity. They should start building Council Houses which were the backbone of lower income families. Of course the Tory leader allowed them to be sold off in a “Right to Buy” legislation in order to win a general election. If our local councillors are really concerned about affordability and availability this has to be the answer. It would also loosen the grip of the Buy to Let market and bring down the price of modest properties and bring them in line with their real value. Thus making them more affordable for those with less means. Things could be learned from the past and the terms of tenure for new council houses be better controlled. There would doubtless be government grants for such an excercise which I know our council would find attractive. I don’t think the designs could be much worse than some of the estates we have seen thrown up around Lichfield in recent years. Come on councillors “fill your boots” like other developers have been doing!

  3. AnnS

    7th March, 2019 at 6:20 pm

    Right to Buy was introduced in the Housing Act 1980, as one of the first major reforms introduced by the Thatcher government.

    However, LDCs entire housing stock was sold to HomeZone Housing (now Bromford Living) in 1997 under the Large Scale Voluntary Transfer arrangements. Consequently, the social housing available in the district is provided by Registered Social Landlords, formerly known as Housing Associations, and I think it highly unlikely that LDC will embark on being a social housing provider ever again. The days of building ‘council’ estates is long gone.

    I recall that 10% of new housing developments over 30 properties had to be allocated for social housing, which was never going to be enough. This figure may well have changed of course, if indeed it still exists.

    There is sometimes a misunderstanding of what affordable housing is, in that some mistakenly believe it to be social housing, which of course it is not.

    The government definition of affordable housing states it must be provided at a level at which the mortgage payments on the property should be more than would be paid in rent on social housing, but below market levels. That is clearly a very broad range. It must also be able to remain at an affordable price for future eligible households.

    Is affordable housing really affordable? In my opinion, not in Lichfield which attracts a premium that many young people cannot afford which is why we are ending up with an aging population.

    Sadly, some people, and I make no distinction to their political persuasion have no social conscience and are not interested in the plight of lower income families.

    Learn from the past Philip? Do we ever?

  4. Philip Allso

    8th March, 2019 at 9:32 am

    A measured reply AnnS, which I very much like. Sadly, age and experience has turned me into a cynic and reading most of my contributions reflects this. The history of housing provision since WW2 is interesting. Few owned private housing in those days and a “Land fit for hero’s” had to be addressed. ‘Learn from history?’ You are, of course, right and our protagonists over the twentieth century are now our EU leaders. No one turns a hair for the sixty million or so that died in one war alone.
    The housing situation in Lichfield has followed a trend of expensive developments and rest and retirement homes to absorb the equity as there elderly owners move on, so to speak. A neat arrangement I think. There is no shortage of these developments with a further thousand and more appearing on the south side of the city soon and sundry developments almost anywhere you look. Infrastructure and facilities are conspicuously lacking. As for the ‘poor,’ well ‘Let them eat cake’, as was another famous historical quote.

  5. John Griffin

    8th March, 2019 at 4:30 pm

    Don’t traduce Marie Antoinette, she meant well, suggesting alternative flour. Cllr Wilcox and his ilk clearly have no such intentions, neither to younger home owning aspirants nor outlying colonies like Burntwood.

  6. Philip Allso

    8th March, 2019 at 7:32 pm

    John, I am not a pedant but I can find no historic support for your assertion ‘re Marie Antoinette. There is much doubt that she even said it. It is however a phrase often used to show the disregard given to others. This is how I meant it. Having a daughter who lived in rented property and struggled to save for a deposit because of the high rents I totally empathize. There are no really affordable properties for many and developers will never build them volenterrely. There are about 100,000 people in the LDC area. Only 30,000 of these live in and around Lichfield (including me). There are some who need preferential treatment for various reasons. All the rest should be treated the same and in proportion to their community size.

  7. Norman Roberts Chasetown resident

    16th March, 2019 at 8:38 am

    It’s dissappointing that the New Road development with over 40% smaller affordable homes still hasn’t commenced despite having had planning permission for over 12 months. The planning department and LDC have no power to get this started and instead focus on bring more greenfield sites to market. Let’s hope BAG can again create enough noise to stop this.

    There has been no response from our elected members or BTC and it wouldn’t surprise me if some individuals from both parties have been in discussions with developers.

  8. John Griffin

    16th March, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    This accusation of collusion with developers is now a BAG meme. BAG have no clout, as development is going to be increasingly dictated centrally and by the needs of Birmingham overspill.

  9. Norman Roberts

    17th March, 2019 at 11:37 am

    John Griffin where have you got evidence from that collusion is a BAG meme? It was simply my POV no one else’s based on the fact this is what happens in politics especially if one side wants something to happen they back the other with concessions in return.

    The ‘Accountability’ you talk about in many of your posts does that not extend to you? You seem to continuously make wild accusations about groups and topics I suspect you know very little about (guess it comes out of books not real life situations) or have any evidence to prove.

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