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Local Lib Dems Committed to Tackling National Housing Affordability Crisis

September 11, 2020 10:25 AM

Dean CroftsBedford Borough Liberal Democrat Spokesperson Cllr Dean Crofts raised the issue of affordable housing at this week's Bedford Borough Council Housing Committee meeting, and stressed the need for continued action to tackle the disparity which currently sees average house prices in Bedford Borough being over nine times higher than average incomes.

The Committee heard how the Council is focused on tackling the crisis, following the announcement this week of initial details of the next round of the national Affordable Homes Programme covering the period 2021-26.

Following the meeting, Cllr Crofts spoke of the importance of using all available 'local levers' to address the local impact of the national housing affordability crisis.

He commented: "We urgently need the government to define affordability more realistically, allow councils to insist on social rented accommodation and not allow developers to wriggle out of the commitment to 30% "affordable" housing. Currently our hands seem to be tied behind our backs and developers hold all the cards.'

"We await more details of the national Affordable Homes Programme, but whether or not the Government's favouritism to developers which contributes to a pathetic record of building homes continues, it's critical that we use local levers at our disposal to help ensure sufficient, suitable and affordable homes are available locally.'

"I was therefore pleased to hear the update on the range of actions being taken to support affordable housing delivery. The Council has hit affordable housing targets in recent years, and it is crucial that it continues to do so and more. Bedford Borough is a popular place to live with a growing population, and the local impacts of the national affordability crisis are severe."

In response to Cllr Crofts' questions, Council officers outlined a number of ongoing measures to support affordable housing supply, including delivery of developments with affordable housing allocated through the local plan, defending affordable housing provision when it is challenged by developers through 'viability appraisals', and monitoring the local market closely to find opportunities to work with affordable housing providers to deliver more homes.

Bedford Borough Council consulted on its new draft Housing Strategy over the summer, and will be agreeing the final strategy in January 2021.

A video recording of the Housing Committee meeting can be watched at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N16Ds9dqwhY&feature=youtu.be