Housing crisis for first-time buyers

THREE-quarters of people wanting to buy homes in Suffolk Coastal in the next five years will struggle to be able to afford to get on to the housing ladder.

THREE-quarters of people wanting to buy homes in Suffolk Coastal in the next five years will struggle to be able to afford to get on to the housing ladder.

That's the conclusion of a new report out today which criticises a government inspector for blocking efforts to provide more rented homes when there is a “clear need”.

The district council wants 30 per cent of all new housing to be affordable homes to help low-paid families, young and single people, and the homeless.

But this has met with some objections, particularly from housing developers and landowners, who would get less profit from housing projects.

A report to councillors said there was an urgent demand for homes - 484 affordable homes were needed each year plus around 450 low-cost ones - but expected very little land to become available.

“The total requirement for affordable housing is extremely high in relation to the number of dwellings built per annum in total,” said the report.

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“However, the council desires to achieve as many affordable houses on as many sites as possible.

“The provision of rented accommodation will be important in the district given that 75 per cent of households expected to form within the next five years would struggle to access the local housing market.”

The council proposed one in three of all new homes in developments of three or more houses in villages, or six or more in towns, should be affordable housing.

But government inspector Geoff Salter said the one in three homes rule should be applied to developments of nine-plus in villages and 15-plus homes in towns.

Cabinet member Rae Leighton said the ruling seemed to “fly in the face of the real needs of our district's communities as small villages so seldom have developments of nine or more houses”. It went against all government statements about how important it is that councils encourage more affordable housing.

In a report, he said the council must now decide what to do next.

The inspector's report was not binding, but the council could run the risk of having to hold another public inquiry - at a cost of £10,000 - if it went against it.

There was also the risk of a complaint to the Ombudsman, criticism of the council for not accepting the views of an independent inspector, or even a challenge in the High Court.