Sunday, 21 June 2009

Bracknell Forest Council's housing strategy is not adequate

Bracknell Forest Council's has released its housing strategy for 2009-2014. It states ‘The overriding priority of this strategy is to enable the provision of the right homes for the communities of Bracknell Forest, in the right place and of the right quality to allow more choice for the residents of the Borough.’

But does it really mean the council are providing for the right number of homes at the right time. The Council intends to utilise the funds it receives from the transfer of its housing stock to Bracknell Forest Homes, however these funds were not high enough as they hardly begin to deal with the problems created by the growing housing crisis within the Borough.

The schemes introduced by the Council to encourage tenants to buy new homes and allow some to purchase shared ownership homes will benefit only a few. Since 1998 house prices have more than doubled within Bracknell Forest and first time buyers now need a household income of approx £38k per annum to buy a flat or maisonette.

The number of households on the Council's housing register has doubled in the past five years and to over 4500 seeking to move or gain access to social housing. A quick analysis of the housing register shows households have to wait on average of over 4 years before an affordable home is offered.

Demand is continuing to outstripping supply and the Council have admitted, in real terms, that it is only able to assist one household in every ten households who are registered for affordable rented homes. (Page 22 of the housing strategy document, here).

Bracknell Council need to provide more homes than this as the number of new affordable homes to be funded by the transfer of the housing stock has already been reduced from 250 to 166 over the next five years. The current plans of building 325 homes by 2014-15 are simply not enough.

There are other opportunities to build these homes in Bracknell for example I have been involved in the public consultation of Amen Corner (details here). Amen corner development currently includes some affordable home but no social housing, this is one issue I would have liked added). More social housing could also be included into the plans of the belated development of Bracknells Town centre.

The Bracknell Forest Council's housing strategy for 2009-2014 document http://www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/housing-strategy-2009-to-2014.pdf

10 comments:

  1. I've often felt that some of the housing stock in Bracknell would benefit from being extended to accomodate a growing family, rather then having these people on the housing list for a larger home that will never materialise. Maybe some of the available funds could be spent turning one and two bed houses into larger accomodation for families. I'm sure in the longer term, this would add value, save time, money and use ready available land surounding the properties.

    We also need to get rid of the expectation that teenagers need their own bedroom, same sex can and should share.

    Another issue is that young people should not be allowed to even be on the housing list until they have good references from having lived in a shared house with people that are not their family; this teaches them how to live with others and makes them less selfish and realise that they can't do exactly what they want. I shared a house until I was 25 (the age you used to have to be to get on the housing list) I then, had to wait my turn. By then I had gained the necessary life skills to become a good neighbour to those around me.

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  2. If it is possible to extend a home then giving the planning it would help. That is a great idea.

    I too lived in a shared house for many years until I got my own place, I also shared a bed room with my brother before hand so I can see your point.

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  3. The council would like to know what you think about the new strategy. The strategy is open to comments and suggestions.

    The average household income for Bracknell Forest is £ 42,239.

    The document contains many useful links to supporting information. Such as the Sustainable Community Strategy the Local Area Agreement, the Bracknell Forest Core Strategy etc.

    http://www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/living/liv-housing/liv-housing-strategies.htm

    Quote from the Document:
    Most residents will obtain their housing of choice without any direct assistance from the council as evidenced by the high levels of private home ownership within the Borough. The Council’s housing role is therefore to do all in its power to ensure the housing market works well, to help create a place in which communities can thrive and to target direct assistance on housing needs that are not otherwise met. This reflects the locally agreed Sustainable Communities Strategy, Local Area Agreement and Local Government guidance:

    “Local authorities’ work in producing housing strategies has been a lever for economic and social change in many areas, reflecting a shift towards ensuring local housing markets meet local demands, rather than a narrow focus on directly providing social housing. This strategic housing role is at the heart of achieving the social, economic and environmental objectives that shape a community and create a sense of place.”

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  4. Thank you Councillor I will,

    My simple concern is the lack of social housing now and in the future. Where I live (Mount Lane) I imagine the average houshold income is alot lower. Using housing to change local housing markets for social change would I imagine involve building more houses so that the cheaper homes are more affordable. I however have found the new homes to be very unaffordable apart from the flats offered at celsius (im currently looking to move)

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  9. I've just moved in with my partner and are looking to buy the council property. I am sure she fits the criteria, now it is just a matter of can we afford it?

    If the answer is yes then I guess the scheme is working. If not, then i guess not. We'll get back to you :)

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  10. born and bred here,been on the list 10 years 3 kids,i work 2 jobs and still no closer

    ReplyDelete