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Because of the downturn in the building industry in recent years, partially completed private housing developments have been lying unsold. Uncertainty reigned and nothing happened.
The developers are now offloading large housing estates to local authorities. I had regarded it as encouraging that local authorities were changing from the system of large estates to smaller more manageable and more intimate group housing developments. That trend is now being reversed. Under severe financial difficulties, developers have to offload to local authorities. In some cases, local authorities have to buy out people who have entered into contracts for some of the properties in large estates to bring the entire estate into the social and social leasing housing category. By going back to the system of large estates, we are increasing the problems that we were to get away from.
With regard to affordable housing, what does “affordable” mean? The concept is very welcome, but what confidence has the DOE about the delivery of affordable housing, throughout all the local authority areas? There is a hesitancy, a lack of experience and a big question mark as to whether, if local authorities build or acquire such housing, they will be able to get people to take them up. This hesitancy I cannot understand.
I believe that were it not for the voluntary agencies leading the way, and the recognition of those endeavours by the DOE, the concept of affordability in housing would be very limited indeed. There is much confusion with house buyers and local authority applicants about social, social leasing and affordable housing. I would appeal to the Minister for Housing to hold a thorough investigation into what is happening.
Cllr Noel Collins
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