Bridport Area Neighbourhood Plan Housing Group – Response to Magna Housing decision to Sell Social Housing in West Dorset
Cllr Ros Kayes’ dismay that Magna Housing intend to sell social rented homes is understandable. Whatever Magna’s reasons, this news is difficult to reconcile with the fact that 283 households (about 1 in every 30 in the Bridport area) are on the Housing Register as being homeless or “unsuitably accommodated”. These residents are unlikely ever to be able to buy a home, they struggle to meet private rental costs, endure overcrowding and often share with others. We must all find this unacceptable.
Consequently the Bridport Area Neighbourhood Plan Housing Group strongly supports the need for more social rented housing. They have identified an across-the-board need for lower-cost open market housing at prices more in reach of locals, in preference to housing built predominantly to serve affluent second-home owners and retirees from outside the area. ‘Social rent’ for a three bedroomed home will, Magna advises, cost around £105 per week. That is affordable by local standards.
Around 1,000 new homes are currently planned for Bridport of which 250 should be a mixture of ‘social rented’ and ‘affordable rented’. However ‘Affordable’ rent is specified by the government as being up to 80% of private rent, equating to at least £150 per week for a three bedroomed ‘affordable’ home. Nationally accepted criteria show that over half the households in Bridport simply cannot afford this. It is misleading to say that rents priced at 80% of private market rents are ‘affordable’ here.
Housing Associations prefer to provide ‘affordable rented’ homes – they get a much better return on their investment and since the government does not subsidise social housing the chance of many ‘social rented’ homes being built in Bridport is slim.
Spokesmen of both local and central government keep reassuring us that ‘affordable’ housing is on its way. Yes, more housing may be on its way but affordable it isn’t, at least not to those in housing need. It is of concern that the District Council simply does not know how many new social rented properties are to be built in Bridport, having no power to dictate the number.
The sad fact is that the District Council’s 2015 Local Plan is not going to help those desperate people on the Housing Register and those suffering housing poverty. The people of Bridport need to understand this.
Dear Mr Greene
(Legal Services Manager, Head of Property & Litigation and Monitoring Officer, WDDC)
RE ADVEARSE PETITION
Thank you for your letter of 22 January which gave your response to the decision of the Chief Executive to refuse to accept our petition. ADVEARSE has considered its response and I am replying on behalf of the group.
We are disappointed that you have failed to give any detailed consideration to the protocol concerning petitions to the Full Council. Most of the letter consists of the list of consultation activities which must have taken at least 2 minutes to copy and paste. We have already received this information on several occasions. We have explained that whilst it might persuade you and colleagues that consultation has been carried out that Bridport Councillors and residents feel that there were failures in the information and consultations process.
We would accept that the Councillors were unlikely to have accepted the demand of the petition and withdrawn Vearse Farm from the Local Plan. This would be especially true granted the particular stage we are at in terms of the Inspection process. We did however wish to achieve two objectives
- Ensuring that Councillors as a whole appreciated the strength of opposition to the proposal
- Ensuring that the public could actually hear an open debate on the issue.
The latter point is paramount. The local press is giving unprecedented coverage to concerns in the community as a whole about West Dorset District as a Council. In particular it is about the sense that ‘cabinet ‘government is not serving local democracy well.
We have collected names and asked for the debate in accordance with the protocol. What would actually have been wrong in actually having the debate and giving the reason for rejecting its request the points which Matt Prosser and you have given? You have given reasons why the Councillors would reject the request but not why the petition should not have been heard. In my initial response to Matt Prosser I suggested that it was bad politics to reject the petition. Weeks on with yet more negative publicity about a high handed council that remains my view. We will certainly be issuing a press release about the matter.
‘Chief Executives decision’- (page one). We note that no councillors were asked for their opinion. Might it have been useful to get their perspective ? Or outside the cabinet members are Councillors to be treated as stooges?
Conclusion of stage III – Thank you for clarifying that we are at the conclusion and pointing us in the direction of the ombudsman. For the record can we note that despite offers on our behalf for other avenues the Council has chosen to deal with us exclusively by e-mail/letter?
To confirm our next actions
- We will be issuing a press release about the rejection
- We will be contacting the Ombudsman
- We will be asking our local councillors for support and guidance
- We will consider how best to network with others who feel disenfranchised by the undemocratic processes of WDDC
Sketches of a development plan proposed for an area of outstanding natural beauty have been released.
Hallam Land Management submitted the designs as part of discussions surrounding a local plan for West Dorset, Weymouth and Portland.
The plans show drawings for a development of up to 760 new homes to the west of Bridport at Vearse Farm.
A campaign group, Advearse, has collected thousands of signatures opposing the idea.
PRESS RELEASE FROM ADVEARSE
WEBSITE LAUNCHED – APRIL 2014
ADVEARSE has announced the launch of its website.
A spokesperson said ‘we have developed the site in response to the many requests we have received asking us to do so’.
The site gives the background to the establishment of the group to raise public awareness of the massive development proposed in the West Dorset Local Plan for the Vearse Farm area of Bridport. There is the opportunity for people to post comments on the site. The site has been developed by Roger Goudge who commented ‘the site is an early stage in its development and we will expect to build the content over the coming months’.
ADVEARSE is monitoring the growing number of similar protests across the country and believes the website will alert to the many people across the country who enjoy the area round Bridport and who will be shocked at the prospect of such a glaring scar on the entrance to the town.
ADVEARSE can also be contacted via the e-mail address
ADVEARSE welcomed the decision of the Planning Inspector to hold a preliminary meeting to explore his concerns about the West Dorset Local plan. We would like to congratulate both the Inspector and the Council on the organisation and conduct of the meeting.
The concerns raised in the meeting justified our decision to raise our own concerns about Vearse Farm. It became clear in the meeting that the Council has worked out a figure of Housing need for the District as a whole. It does not have an accurate evidence base for how many houses are actually needed in Bridport. The 800 houses are merely a very convenient contribution to the District requirement. The meeting also confirmed that the prospect that 35% of the houses at Vearse Farm will be ‘affordable housing’ is a pipe dream. We would urge local people not to be misled into supporting this scheme in the vain hope it will help local people to get houses.
ADVEARSE supports the position of Bridport Town Council that housing development in the town should be closely linked to the development of employment opportunities. Development should be on a scale and at a pace which reflects the character of a market town and its outstanding natural setting. ADVEARSE can be contacted by e-mail at [email protected]
Any questions about this Press Release to Barry Bates: