Chelmsford Council defends ‘disappointing’ affordable housing figures

The Lib Dem administration on Chelmsford Council has defended its affordable housing policy after being accused of failing to deliver enough.

Instead Deputy Leader Marie Goldman has said that it should be the Tories that should be blamed for the level of affordable housing that has been built in the past year, which has fallen short by 12 per cent of the 35 per cent of total builds it has promised.

Her defence comes after figures showed that there  have been 189 affordable housing completions in the year to March 2020, which account for 23 per cent of total completions. This is 12 per cent below the 35 per cent standard set out in the Lib Dem housing policy.

But on sites granted planning permission over the affordable housing threshold, 28 per cent of the total will be delivered as affordable.

Total housing completions have fallen to 832 this year, but this still exceeds the minimum housing requirement of 805 for the year up to March 2020.

The spat came during the Chelmsford policy board meeting last week, in which council leader Stephen Robinson was not present

Tory councillor Richard Poulter said: “Over the years I have listened very patiently to Cllr Robinson criticising the previous administration over the delivery of the level of affordable housing so I hope he will share my disappointment and convey that to him about these figures in particular 189 new affordable housing units – that is a decrease of 34 from the previous year under the Tory administration.”

Cllr Goldman said: “Given that it takes a long time to deliver housing I find it quite strange that Cllr Poulter would say that in the one year after the Lib Dems were elected into administration into the council that he is blaming the Lib Dems for not having delivered enough affordable housing.

“Bearing in mind he must know that construction projects take a long time to come to fruition.

“Not only that but they were delivering the Conservatives’ local plan.

“We always said in opposition that the Conservative local plans would not deliver enough affordable housing and it would always require some sort of council intervention to deliver more affordable housing.”

Councils across Essex have agreed that the proposed government “eye watering”, changes in its planning white paper represent the biggest threat to the amount of affordable housing that will be built.

Chelmsford would see its target go up from 946 homes per year to 1,557 – an increase of 65 per cent – but the amount of affordable housing would reduce by 20 per cent.

Advertisement

Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter