Lewes District Greens are relieved that LDC has cancelled the unpopular ‘49 sites’ plan, officially known as the ‘New Homes’ initiative.
We are in favour of genuinely affordable new homes to rent and buy, but this plan by Lewes District Council was riven with difficulties.
The council failed from the start to consult properly with town and parish councils, and to involve local communities in developing the big idea.
Even though the council was promising the first new council homes for decades, all the affordable homes were to be centralised, principally in Newhaven, exacerbating existing social inequality in the district rather than providing genuinely affordable homes across the district where they are needed.
Furthermore, Councillor Maskell, the Conservative lead member for housing, in an undated letter I received on the 22nd December, made it clear that if these quality council homes were sold on under ‘Right to Buy’ that would be a good thing regardless of their social value. Greens are disappointed that the ambitious target for new council housing outlined in the proposal will not now be achieved.
However, there is now the opportunity for building a new, more robust plan, in partnership with local communities who are seeking genuinely affordable homes across the district. And we must be mindful of the fact that the ‘New Homes’ plan failed because of legal technicalities, not because Lewes District Council had started listening to residents.
Community groups and neighbourhoods will need to keep watch on precious community amenities. Meanwhile the council needs to work with communities this time, to develop an alternative plan that works for everyone to provide the right housing we all need.
Cllr Johnny Denis
Glynde Parish Council