Hackney councillor and minister clash over affordable housing plans

Cllr Philip Glanville

Cllr Philip Glanville - Credit: Archant

A housing minister clashed with a Hackney councillor during a heated exchange at Westminster over the forthcoming Housing and Planning Bill.

Brandon Lewis MP. PA images

Brandon Lewis MP. PA images - Credit: PA WIRE

Brandon Lewis MP demanded to know why Cllr Philip Glanville, cabinet member for housing, had said that the government’s new starter homes policy would “squeeze out” genuinely affordable housing from new developments.

The Conservatives’ starter homes initiative will help first-time buyers aged under 40 buy a cut-price home with a minimum 20 per cent discount off the market price.

It has been made possible because of changes in planning policy, freeing builders who develop commercial and industrial land from the requirement to provide affordable housing.

Cllr Glanville had given the example of a 700-home development of a Royal Mail site in Clerkenwell, Islington, where the percentage of affordable housing was negotiated down to just 20 per cent, half of which would be for social renting.

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Mr Lewis said: “Local authority negotiation has nothing to do with starter homes – how does that link to starter homes, which haven’t actually come in yet?”

Cllr Glanville replied: “I think that starter homes will be the first port of call for developers – I fear for the future.

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“When people protest against new development it is often ‘my sons and daughters couldn’t purchase a new home there’. And I think the challenge is if starter homes come before other forms of affordable housing we won’t see local people being able to afford them.

“We do obviously aspire for people to buy. We need that range of products and starter homes is not a replacement for shared ownership.”

He added that with shared ownership the affordability through new buyers buying a share can be kept in perpetuity, but that the 20 per cent discount or starter home is lost after five years have elapsed and buyers can sell at market rates.

Cllr Glanville said: “If you are going to meet the aspiration of home ownership, that is about incomes of £30–40,000 and below and that can work in shared ownership in the borough. We are building 500 homes for shared ownership ourselves because we want to meet that aspiration for low cost home ownership.”

The debate took place at a meeting of the Housing and Planning Bill Committee of MPs, in Portcullis House, next to the Houses of Parliament, on Tuesday.

Cllr Glanville also asked for councils to have access to a national database of rogue landlords that is proposed in the Bill.

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