Affordable housing con

In their housing bill, the government has suggested that developers should be able to renegotiate section 106 agreements for affordable housing contributions, in order to enable them to deliver currently stalled developments. At the same time, the government has found yet more money, in those treasury coffers that are supposedly bereft of funds, to provide £400m for guess what? – affordable housing!

Setting the stage for developers to wriggle out of providing an element of affordable housing within their developments, suggests a return to the council estates we have been working to get away from since Margaret Thatcher introduced right to buy.

The cynic in me sees more than a little collusion, or even out right conspiracy in these proposals. Developers have never liked devaluing their open market housing developments with affordable housing, even when they could afford it. Even then, they tried their best to bunch them all together in the back of the site – almost out of site out of mind (that’s a pun by the way, not a typo)

Now, with the government promoting the renegotiation of s106 agreements for this provision, whilst at the same time providing money for its delivery, it would seem that the developers are going to get their wish and we are going to see the potential emergence of a new clutch of sink estates.

Instead of giving developers a way of undermining local authorities ability to deliver affordable housing using their own policies, why doesn’t the government give councils the £400m? Councils could then use this money to subsidise developers and require them to maintain a mix of tenure within their developments. But of course the developers wouldn’t like that idea, so it’s never going to happen.

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