Plea for homes in Lewes that people can afford

Ashley Price
Ashley Price
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A Lewes Town Councillor is demanding an increase in social and affordable housing in the county town.

Buying a house in Lewes is out of reach for the majority of people who work there, said Cllr Ashley Price (Priory Ward).

But the Green Party member believes the town has the potential to be unique in having a sizeable stock of social and affordable homes.

He said people, especially those with families, have to look for higher paid work in other towns or cities, which increases travelling time. The other alternative is to move away from the area.

The South Downs National Park sets a requirement of at least 40 per cent affordable housing in a development, he said. However, many applications for new housing developments exclude any provision at all. Some plans show a number of affordable homes initially, but over time the plans are altered and the number diminishes significantly, or disappears completely.

Even the latest plans for the town’s North Street Quarter development only show provision of 30-35 per cent affordable housing, said Cllr Price.

He said: “When developers are questioned on this they come up with a range of excuses for not including any provision.

“They say that estate agents are telling them there’s no market for affordable homes, only the expensive ones will sell. Occasionally agreements are made part of the contract of sale with buyers, that there will be no social housing provision on the site.

“At the end of the day, it comes down to money. Obviously the developers get a higher profit for building expensive homes but at the expense of those who live and work in Lewes.

“This simply isn’t good enough. There is a real need for a stock of good quality, affordable and social housing.”

Cllr Price continued: “There has to be a way developers can build more social and affordable housing. Everybody understands, of course, that a company has to make a profit if it is to continue to grow and be successful, but excessive profits shouldn’t be the only consideration.”

He is now planning to set up meetings with local developers, housing associations, planners, architects and estate agents to see if there is a way to ensure that, in future, houses will be available and affordable to people who want to work and live in the town.