Full Council today debated and approved a Green Party motion calling for action to enable more affordable housing to be built across Bristol and to make the process more transparent. The motion follows controversy over a planned development for 135 houses in the Chocolate Factory in Easton, which was deferred by councillors on the planning committee over concerns about the lack of affordable housing and a number of other recent schemes which have offered very little affordable housing.
Green councillor Stephen Clarke, who tabled the motion said:
“I am delighted that council agreed this motion which was proposed by the Green group and supported by Labour amendments. Everyone talks about the need for affordable housing and the 10,000 people on the council's housing list and the numbers of people sleeping rough are evidence of the problems. Bristol’s own Mayor Marvin Rees pledged to build 800 a year for example, but for this to be possible we need an urgent change in how our housing system works. At the moment it is all too easy for developers to fail to deliver the council’s own affordable housing target of 30%-40% by saying that if they build affordable homes their scheme won’t make enough profit. The viability process - on which these decisions are made has been too secretive and should be entirely public. This motion will help to make that happen.”
The Green Party have called for half a million homes to be available for social rent by 2020 across the country. This would cost £27 billion over the course of the parliament which could be paid for by increasing Government spending on social housing by £4.5 billion a year and removing the cap on what local authorities can borrow to build new housing. Increased government spending would be paid for by scrapping mortgage interest tax allowance (worth around £5.8 billion a year) and reforming other landlord tax allowances.
Councillor Clive Stevens who also spoke said:
"It is clear the affordable housing system doesn't work, even the planning officers say its broken. I agree with them. Some of the change needed is national but there is much we can do in Bristol with good leadership and targeted effort. If asked, I’d love to help get the affordable housing process working again and if it needs banging a few heads together then I'm up for that"
The leader of the Green group Councillor Charlie Bolton said
“I am pleased that this motion has passed, despite opposition from Conservative councillors, and hope that we can really have some action on affordable housing. We know that the housing crisis is a national, not just a local issue, but we need strong leadership from our city leaders and we hope that this motion can assist that process. After all everyone has the right to a decent home.”
Image: Councillor Stephen Clarke proposes the Green affordable housing motion