Monday, 18 August 2008

Our letter to the Yorkshire Evening Post

'Don't leave us at mercy of market'
16 August 2008
http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/letters-to-the-editor/Dont-leave-us-at-mercy.4398106.jp

In July the YEP reported on the demise of the Leeds Lumiere development.
What you did not point out is that "the market" that has shelved this development is the same market that is proposed to "regenerate" Leeds and provide it with affordable homes.

Vast areas of mainly council housing are being flattened to provide to provide land upon which private developers can build housing for sale, a small proportion of which will be called "affordable".

With council housing lists at bursting point, inflation continuing to rise, unemployment increasing and the cost of borrowing remaining high what chance do first-time buyers or those people being removed from areas such as Gipton and Seacroft have of finding a decent, affordable place to live?

Leeds City Council's policy of relying on the private sector to provide homes must be a risky strategy. The leader of the council, Coun Richard Brett, recently remarked that "there is a real question mark about whether Bellway can build and sell houses in Seacroft and Gipton when we are in a credit crunch."

Bellway Homes are the "preferred" partner with Leeds City Council in the EASEL regeneration project across east and south-east Leeds.

This shows the danger of expecting the private sector to deliver public services such as affordable housing: they will only do it if they can make a certain profit.

So here's an idea: if private builders like Bellway are reluctant to build houses in case they can't sell them, why doesn't the council take them over to provide for rented accommodation? Building jobs will be saved and truly affordable housing will have been achieved.

Housing is too vital to be left to the market and we urge the council to rethink the current policy. Oh and by the way – if there are so many empty riverside flats unoccupied then why not take them over as well?

John Davies, chairman, Hands Off Our Homes

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