Calls for more affordable housing in north Northamptonshire as councillor warns of crisis
North Northamptonshire Council (NNC) is facing demands for a clearer strategy to build more affordable social housing and prevent homelessness in the area – as a councillor warned it was facing a crisis.
A motion is to come before full council on Thursday, October 26, and will be the third time that it has been scheduled in the agenda.
Across two previous council meetings, in June and August, Cllr Valerie Anslow (Lab, Croyland and Swanspool) was set to propose the motion over a “real and continuing housing crisis”. She commented that she had “lost the will to live” after running out of time to fully debate the issue on both occasions.
Speaking at a meeting in August, she said: “I know that we take housing seriously and our housing teams work hard. This motion asks us to be proactive, though, and not reactive. It’s time for a clear vision and a strategy for the building and the development of social housing across north Northamptonshire to meet the growing need for affordable housing.”
In north Northants the average house price is almost £270,000 according to Land Registry data. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) says that at least ten per cent of housing provided in major developments should be affordable, however there is no agreed definition of what ‘affordable housing’ entails.
Cllr Lyn Buckingham, who seconded the motion, said: “There’s many crises coming up and one of those is going to be in temporary accommodation. We should be using our partners, housing associations and private landlords where we can to bring people together because, if not, this council will face a huge financial drain because of homelessness.”
Issues cited in the motion include “massive delays in processing housing applications”, “lack of temporary accommodation” and “little progress” being made in assisting with rough sleeping programmes.
People are able to register for affordable housing on the council’s website where the team will assess applications. However, they recognise that there is a “high demand for affordable housing which cannot be fully met from available properties through the housing register”.
They suggest looking into other housing options including renting in the private sector, looking into housing benefit and low-cost home options including shared ownership.
Cllr Mark Rowley (Con, Ise) said: “As well as building houses, which we’ve got a number of developments going on at the moment, we’re buying houses from the market. The housing strategy is under way already.”
He also said that there had been 525 homeless approaches to the team in July and that they “work tirelessly to make sure that people aren’t made homeless”, with 47 people being placed in temporary accommodation and 48 coming out of temporary accommodation in that month.
The discussion was then concluded, after a guillotine motion was approved to end the full council at 9pm, three hours after the meeting had started.
The matter will be continued on Thursday, almost four months after it was first brought to the attention of the council.