At the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday a Labour motion supporting affordable housing was rejected by the Conservative Cabinet.
Recent government guidance has allowed developers to opt out of providing affordable housing on all developments of less than 10 houses. This new government guidance is not in accordance with the suspended draft Local Plan which asks for affordable housing in all developments of 3 or more houses in local service centres.
Concerns were also raised over what would happen if Neighbourhood Plans asked for more affordable housing than set out in government guidance? Would the Council support the local communities or the government?
Sam Corcoran, Labour Councillor for Sandbach Heath & East, said, “The statement in the Council report that we can’t opt out of government policy guidance misses the point. If there is any substance to ‘localism’ then we do have some freedom. Neighbourhood Plans could promote affordable housing. What would happen if a Neighbourhood Plan supported by the community demanded higher percentages of affordable housing than government policy guidance?
I think that is an interesting debate that we should be taking forward. Sadly, this report suggests that Cheshire East Council would not side with the local people in such a debate.
What are the implications for our Local Plan which currently demands contributions and affordable houses for developments of more than 3 houses in local service centres Do we need to change our Local Plan to suit the new government rules or will we stand by what local communities want?
“I have argued for more bungalows (which I think is what is meant by ‘single storey developments’ in the Council report). I am concerned that no details are given in the report, and there are only limited ideas in the Council’s Vulnerable and Older People’s Housing Strategy as to how to achieve more bungalows being built.”
Dr Darren Price, planning expert and Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Congleton, said, “On a broader theme developers will always try and wriggle out of affordable housing commitments (because it costs them money) and this should be resisted strongly at all times.
“Personally, I dislike the statement at in the report that "Cheshire East Council will continue to support our most vulnerable and in need residents, particularly the needs of working families and older people through the development of suitable accommodation, including single storey developments." ...Firstly because it is hollow statement with no reference to how they will do that, and secondly as it again makes the unhelpful distinction between'working families and older people' and by implication non-working families who may be through no fault of their own non-working (the disabled, the seriously ill etc. This is another example of the Conservative’s change of the public discourse over the weak and the vulnerable.”