Plymouth's new Plan for Homes has been officially launched at a major housing summit. The conference, organised by the South West Housing Initiative and Plymouth City Council, was held on Friday 1 November and brought key people from across the country to the city to discuss how more homes can be built to tackle the housing shortage and meet the needs of a growing population.
Finance for housing was one of the key topics along with the role of community owned housing companies and new ways to help people afford their own home.
Plymouth City Council Leader Councillor Tudor Evans officially launched the Plan for Homes announcing that 100 acres of Council land would be released for housing developments and that a £50 million affordable loan facility would be made available to the Plymouth Housing Development Partnership so they can borrow at lower rates than are usually available to them.
The aim is to support first time buyers and help people rent or buy affordable, high quality and fuel efficient homes. Housing co-operatives would also be supported where a group of people have control over their own housing and is an alternative to traditional home renting or buying.
Councillor Evans said: "We have big ambitions to grow our city, there are predictions that the population will increase to 300,000 by 2031 and we need to make sure there are homes available that meet the needs of all those people. How we build those homes and how they're paid for are some of the issues we've been talking about today and I'm delighted I was able to officially launch our Plan for Homes, setting out the schemes we will be working on in the immediate future to deliver our aim of 1,000 new homes a year."
Councillor Mark Lowry, Cabinet member for Finance whose portfolio includes housing delivery said: "We are facing some significant challenges; low wages and high house prices, 10,000 people on the waiting list and the cost of living going up. All this is making it incredibly difficult for people to get on the housing ladder and find good quality homes so we have to act now, we have a plan and we are putting a lot of effort into making sure more properties are built that people can afford to rent and buy."
Councillor Patrick Nicholson, Conservative spokesman for Housing said: "Conservative Councillors are very supportive of sustainable development in our City especially the delivery of additional housing to meet the needs of our citizens. We look forward to working with the public in identifying suitable sites and ensuring that improved infrastructure is provided to sustain a growing population."
John Glen MP, Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government also attended the conference along with representatives from the Chartered Institute of Housing, Plymouth Community Homes and the Confederation of Co-operative Housing.
Discussions were also held around how to ensure sufficient affordable homes are provided while there is often resistance to new developments. Chair of the South West Housing Initiative Richard Kitson said: "For the region to have a sustainable and successful economy, employers need to be able to rely on having committed employees who can afford to live and work here. The construction industry itself is also a key driver in contributing to economic growth and if we provide sufficient homes, prices and rents would gradually stabilise and become more affordable.
"No-one is opposed to preserving our countryside and green spaces but if we are to build a stronger economy we must tackle the shortage of homes and so there must be a greater public realisation that saying 'no new homes here' also means no younger generations and a risk to local economies."
1 November 2013