Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Bury and the homes versus Green Belt debate

Two pieces of news today that combine to illustrate the symbiotic relationship between politics and planning.

Shelter has published a report today that concludes that the housing shortage is affecting the kind of areas that decide elections.

The figures look at the number of private homes for sale that are affordable to three groups: young couples with children, single people and couples without children. The report looks at the entire country, finding 80% of homes on the market are unaffordable to working families on typical incomes.

One of the marginal wards identified is Bury North, which is held by the Conservatives with a majority of 2,243 and where 72% of private homes available for sale are unaffordable for a couple on average incomes.

At the same time, there is also news today that Bury's Core Strategy has been suspended for second time because of concerns about the evidence base for the proposed housing requirement. This quote from Cllr Sandra Walmsley, cabinet member for resource and regulation, highlights the real issue at play.

"People in Bury want us to protect the Green Belt, and we have brought forward a plan which reflects those views in the light of increasing developer pressures to release green fields in some of the most attractive parts of the borough."

In his Shelter Blog Steve Akhurst suggests that not only is housing one of the fastest rising issues in British politics, it is also one of the few genuinely unclaimed ones. Will candidates in Bury North next year though be racing to claim it? Will they be reaching out to the couple on average incomes or to the people who want the Green Belt protecting? This recent blog by Labour's candidate provides a good indication...

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