Under Bridge (Courtesy: LDRS)
Due to long term underinvestment
A national housing charity says the housing crisis, declared last week in South Hams, is the result of “sky-high” rents and long-term underinvestment in housing.
South Hams advisers have announced a housing crisis due to a lack of rental housing available for more than six months, an excessive increase in housing prices due to second home owners, the conversion of properties to Airbnb and of people moving into the neighborhood since the pandemic.
District Council Chief Cllr Judy Pearce (Cons, Salcombe and Thurlestone) said the needs of local communities should be taken into account. “We are all very aware of the issues that have been created this summer as so many properties have been turned into Airbnb,” she said.
“We have all the sympathy for the people who want to come and visit the South Hams, but we have to look at the sustainable future of our district and if people cannot afford to live here to work then the system will collapse. .
“We cannot have countless tourists here if there is no one here to service the businesses they use. “
But the shelter’s director of policy and campaigns for the shelter for the homeless, Osama Bhutta, believes the problem has been worsening for many years. “In coastal areas and across the country, the housing emergency is wreaking terrible havoc,” Bhutta said.
“We have people who are being driven from their area due to soaring house prices, sky-high private rents and landlords choosing to turn their properties into more lucrative short-term rentals.
“At the root of this crisis were decades of failure to invest in the good quality social housing that our local communities clearly need. Well-built homes that people can afford to live in shouldn’t be a rarity, they should be the norm.
“If the new housing secretary is serious about bringing the country up to speed, he has to build a new generation of social housing. “
South Hams says it has a five-year supply of land for housing, a joint local plan adopted with Plymouth and West Devon and a housing strategy adopted, but still has too little properties for locals and people wishing to work in the area.
South Hams is coming up with plans that it hopes will ease the housing crisis. Priorities include;
- Lobby the central government, through MPs and the Association of Local Authorities, to allow a housing tax on residential land with building permits if it has not been built after a specified period of time.
- Lobby the government to better regulate vacation properties to ensure they comply with planning policies and local taxes. The aim is to prevent too many local accommodation from being converted into holiday accommodation.
- Immediate review of the vacation rental to ensure owners are paying the correct amount for waste disposal and recycling. SHDC says businesses should not participate in normal household recycling and waste collection.
- The council will work closely with registered providers on many housing projects to ensure the best use of these properties, for example to encourage tenants to downsize where possible and make larger properties available. larger households.
- In addition, the district council is proposing to use a portion of the income from affordable housing to increase payments to downsizing tenants to make the move more attractive and affordable.
- One of the most important tools being considered is the use of Section 106 Affordable Housing Contributions to help fund developments anywhere in the District where the terms of Section 106 agreements permit.
- The Council also wants low-carbon modular housing such as ZEDpods and is actively seeking opportunities to invest in council-owned social housing with highly sustainable specifications.
- SHDC also plans to lobby the government to allow local councils to charge double the housing tax rates on second or vacation homes.
- Section 106 agreements are registered against title to the property and would therefore be readily visible to any potential buyer in the future, rather than other planning terms that tend to be lost or overlooked when reselling. a house.
The average salary in South Hams in 2020 was around £ 30,000, but many houses in towns such as Salcombe sell for over £ 750,000, or 25 times the local average salary.