Sign up to our Editors Choice newsletter now! Click here

Major housing scheme in Essex pulled as social landlords feel the cuts

Accessibility Menu

Menu Search

24dash - The UK's most up-to-date social housing and public sector news website

Major housing scheme in Essex pulled as social landlords feel the cuts


Published by 24publishing for in Housing

Major housing scheme in Essex pulled as social landlords feel the cuts Major housing scheme in Essex pulled as social landlords feel the cuts

A major housing scheme in Essex which would have provided 750 new homes - a quarter of which would have been affordable housing - has been abandoned because of cut backs in the national housing budget.

Bob Weston, chairman and chief executive of developer Weston Homes, said the scheme, in Rainham, was abandoned because the amount of money the social landlords were initially able to pay for more than 180 homes was drastically cut.

The scheme had previously received approval from Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

Mr Weston said: "The irony is that the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles MP actually gave the scheme consent, primarily due to the severe shortage of such key housing. But by cutting funding which enables social landlords to pay for the affordable homes private developers are willing to build, which are sold to them way below market value as it is, the Government has prevented the scheme it actually approved from going ahead.

"This is a scandalous missed opportunity which has prevented 750 families from finding a new home, up to 200 of whom would have been offered affordable housing."

In a letter to 24housing magazine, Mr Weston said the scenario is being repeated up and down the country as the cuts kick in with developers "expected to shoulder more and more of the costs, to the point where major new community schemes like this are becoming untenable".  

He said if the Government is serious about increasing housing provision, there are "three fundamental flaws in the system which need to be tackled as a matter of urgency".

He said: "First, we need to ensure that the limited funding available to help the poorest households is targeted at those who need it most. One social landlord has recently been boasting that anyone earning up to £60,000 can qualify for its housing. That’s a pay bracket which must apply to at least 95% of the population, as it certainly applies to up to 95% of my own staff. No wonder there is such demand for affordable housing.

"Secondly, we need to get rid of the costly initiatives which divert funding away, such as the Discount Market Sale, which doesn’t even have a salary threshold. So you can earn £100,000 a year and still qualify for up to 30% off a property, you just need to live or work in the vicinity of developments where it operates.

"Last but not least, whilst I hope the Localism Bill will go some way in cutting the red tape which currently hinders developments in the face of any hint of opposition from an overly influential and vocal minority, against the wishes of the majority, the complex array of taxes and levies which stifle builders must be vastly reduced."





Login and comment using one of your accounts...