Working hard all year round for South Bristol
"More than 15,000 families are seeking an affordable home to rent in Bristol, the average house to buy is 10 times the average annual salary in the city and building new houses in south Bristol has virtually ceased.
Private rents are rising at 4% a year whilst earnings stagnate. The National Housing Federation estimate it takes over 7 years for theaverage Bristol worker to save enough for the deposit required for a modest starter home.
And then there is the bedroom tax.
Look beyond the statistics and you will find parents forced to move miles from their children’s school and low income workers commuting increasing distances. Families who have lived in a community for generations are now being forced out by ever rising rents. Every week more local people contact my constituency office desperate for help in finding somewhere to live.
What can be done? There are 1500 unbuilt homes in the Bristol South constituency, homes with existing planning permission and where work could start (across Britain this figure is 400,000). Some sites were owned by companies that have gone bankrupt, such as on Malago Road, others are being “landbanked” by speculators, awaiting another housing bubble. The vast majority of these are so-called brownfield sites, where there has been previous development.
National Government must lift restrictions on Councils’ ability to build new homes, allowing them to step in and get work started where financial problems exist. And they should adopt Labour’s plan of “use it or lose it”, which would let Councils use compulsory purchase powers on un-built sites.
But there is also a responsibility on those of us, who already have a decent place to live, to think very carefully when responding to planning applications. Opposing badly designed or inappropriate applications is understandable but we do need more homes for our families in our local communities. Too often local services such as schools have not been expanded quickly enough, but this does not have to be the case.
If we want genuinely diverse and sustainable communities we must build more, if we do not where are the homes for our children or grandchildren?
What do you think? Get in touch with me by email at email@example.com or write to me at PO Box 1002, Bristol, BS99 1WH."
Article first published in the Bristol Pigeon October 2013