Memorandum by South West Regional Assembly
This submission to the Select Committee is jointly
from the South West Regional Assembly, the South West Local Government
Association and the South West Regional Development Agency.
Affordable housing is a key concern of the region,
both in urban and rural areas, and features strongly in the draft
Regional Housing Strategy 2002-05 (copy attached). The Regional
Housing Strategy, which is currently out in the region for consultation,
is also likely to make recommendations about the quality and sustainability
of all new housing.
The South West has a relatively low proportion
of social rented housing (16 per cent, compared with 24 per cent
nationally). We have high in-migration, putting pressure on the
housing stock, coupled with high second home ownership (nearly
40 per cent in some parishes), rising numbers of households in
acute housing need, and the loss of homes from the public stock
due to right-to-buy (several authorities have lost nearly half
their stock). In addition, the region is characterised by relatively
low average earnings but house prices which are the third highest
in the country behind only London and the South East (regional
figures are given in Figure 1).
All these factors contribute to an acute need
for more affordable housing. As this is such a crucial issue for
the South West, in November 2002 Lord Rooker will come to the
region to open a conference on this theme.
Delivery is key. The current indicative estimate
of the demand for affordable housing is in the order of 6,000-10,000
units per year (compared to an overall regional net demand of
20,200 dwellings). More money being made available is welcomed;
however increases in land and house prices makes it difficult
to provide social housing. Levels of completions by tenure achieved
in recent years in the region are provided in Figure 2. Without
a regional breakdown of Comprehensive Spending Review figures,
it is difficult to make judgements as to whether the funds made
available by the Government will achieve the "decent home
for all" target in the South West.
The Inquiry is respectfully urged to probe whether
the proposed changes in the planning system, coupled with the
creation of Regional Housing Bodies working in an integrated way
with existing regional bodies to address the housing agenda, will
meet some of the challenges faced by the South West in terms of
delivering sufficient affordable housing.