Homes for the South West, a leading group of 12 housing associations, has warned that a chronic shortage of housing and lack of connectivity is holding the region back.
The group, whose members own more than 250,000 homes and house half a million people, is calling on the next Government to take urgent action to address this and drive investment and the building of new homes across the South West.
The investment the region needs could be kickstarted if the Government were to provide a clear 5–10-year pipeline of capital spending projects in the South West. This would give certainty to companies and contractors across the built environment, allowing them to invest in technology and the training of a new generation of skilled workers to build the homes the region needs.
The call is made in Homes for the South West’s manifesto, titled “Building the Affordable Homes the South West Needs”. The manifesto, informed by a comprehensive study from the University of the West of England, outlines the unique challenges faced by the region. These challenges include a 200,000-home shortage, a 400% rise in house prices over the past 25 years – compared to an 83% increase in median earnings – and a significant percentage of second homes exacerbating local affordability issues.
Other key recommendations from the manifesto include:
-Using public land for affordable homes: Revise public land disposal strategies to ensure 50% is used for affordable housing, leveraging regional assets for community benefit.
-Reforming planning rules: Speed up the building of new homes by introducing a new 13-week system of presumed consent for planning applications that comply with local plans.
-Funding for regeneration: Make grant funding from the Affordable Homes Programme permanently available to replace poor-quality homes.
-Enforceable developer contributions: Tighten Section 106 agreement regulations to ensure developers contribute a genuinely fair share to affordable housing.
-Addressing regional inequalities: Reform the Affordable Homes Programme to prioritise regions like the South West that have experienced historic levels of underinvestment.
Chair of Homes for the South West, Louise Swain says: “The housing crisis in the South West is fast approaching breaking point. Too few homes are being built and we are now one of the least affordable regions in England, behind only London, the East of England, and the South East.
“Our manifesto calls for an urgent injection of investment and confidence in our region. It also sets out a range of practical steps that could be taken to drive the delivery of new homes so urgently needed by people in the South West.
“This is not just a call for change – but also a commitment from Homes for the South West members to work collaboratively with the Government and local communities to address the challenges facing our region.”
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