There was, quite rightly, national acclaim for the decision by Prime Minister Theresa May to lift the housing borrowing cap which has hindered the ability of councils to provide housing and to tackle the chronic shortages all over the country.
Private developers, housing associations, charities, even economists, all came out to support this decision – it is the correct thing to do and everybody knows it! Local Government Associations and councils have worked for decades to achieve this initiative, credit to James Brokenshire and the housing team in Downing Street then.
But councils/communities must act NOW and not let intransigence or indeed PLC’s enforce on our communities what they want to build and where it is most profitable for them to digest their mammoth bonuses for building “rabbit hutches” with mega price tags.
Council leaders must roll up their sleeves, especially here in Lewes, and take a fresh look at building programmes, and take this opportunity so people can have a decent home in the town they grew up in that they can afford.
For so many people and families the impact of the housing crisis has been profound. Councils need to move quickly, and the Treasury need to fulfil the Government’s decision without delay.
Allowing councils to invest in housing and the required infrastructure will generate revenues with wide-ranging benefits for societies and local economies. It will allow councils to build houses which are spacious, of good quality and, most importantly, affordable (!) and in places where people want to live, not where people are herded, and have to live. This in turn drives growth, supports local trades and tradespeople, reduces homelessness, promotes healthier communities and gets our younger generation onto the housing ladder.
Lewes councillors need to take a good look at the North Street Quarter project and re-evaluate it and what’s best for Lewes as opposed to what’s best for Barratts or any other major PLC that could be in consideration for the build out.
The last time this country built houses at the scale we need now was the 1970s where councils built 40 per cent of them. The ambition of our councils must be to hit those heights once again, and get on with it now. Homelessness is far more important an issue than selfish nimbyism.
Councils must stand together on this principal and deliver.
King Henry’s Road, Lewes