Council to tackle soaring homes market

By Richard SmithA COUNCIL is planning urgent action to help young people who are priced out of the property market get a foot on the housing ladder.Suffolk Coastal District Council wants to tackle the plight facing many young people who find themselves wanting a home of their own, but are thwarted by soaring sale and rental prices.

By Richard Smith

A COUNCIL is planning urgent action to help young people who are priced out of the property market get a foot on the housing ladder.

Suffolk Coastal District Council wants to tackle the plight facing many young people who find themselves wanting a home of their own, but are thwarted by soaring sale and rental prices.

It is considering adopting a new policy that would provide more affordable housing in the district - which includes the towns of Felixstowe, Woodbridge, Framlingham, Leiston, Aldeburgh and Saxmundham.

Under the policy, developers would be asked to make 33% of new properties available as affordable housing when there are six or more properties being built in towns and three or more properties being constructed in villages.

The current policy is to ask developers to build affordable housing when their development is 25 or more properties in urban areas and 15 properties in rural areas.

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The council also wants to allow more sites outside permitted development areas to be used for affordable housing - defined as low-cost market and subsidised housing that will be available to people who cannot afford to rent or to buy houses generally available on the open market.

A housing needs survey in 2000 found the average house price in the Suffolk Coastal district was £105,000, but that has risen to £167,000 during the past three years.

The average cost of a home at the lowest end of the market was £100,000 and salary statistics revealed 54% of households in the area would not be able to gain a foothold on the housing ladder at that price.

But concern has been expressed by the Government Office for East of England, Felixstowe Town Council, developers and planning consultants that house prices could be pushed up by council's proposed policy.

They said the gap in house prices would escalate because the introduction of cheap homes would make developers increase the cost of other properties in the development to compensate for reduced income.

Simon Golding, managing director of Golding Developments Ltd, based in Ipswich, added: “We have standard house types so if we had to donate 33% to affordable housing, it would be a terrible blight for us and it would probably put us off buying a site.

“It really has to be viewed on a site-by-site basis. Social housing is good on larger sites, but you get smaller, more bespoke sites that do not necessarily suit social housing.

“I understand that there is a real need for it, especially in rural locations, but it can be tough on developers, especially smaller developers.

“If you buy a nice site and have to put 33% to social housing, it does affect businesses like ourselves, whereas larger developers can afford to do that as it is more turnover for them.”

Suffolk Coastal District Council's cabinet will discuss the proposed policy at its meeting tonight.

richard.smith@eadt.co.uk

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