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Workers 'can't afford to live in the town' - councillor claims

Malvern Editorial 12th Feb, 2014 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

A LEADING councillor has slammed the state of housing in Malvern as ‘pitiful’ due to less than 30 affordable homes being built in the last nine months.

Coun Tom Wells, member of the district council’s executive board, said at this rate of development it would take another century to rehome the 1,400 people in Malvern on the waiting list for social housing.

The Lib Dem group leader warned key workers were being driven out of Malvern because they could not afford to live in the town any longer.

Coun Wells raised the concerns during discussions over the district council’s revised housing allocations scheme, which determines how people waiting to be rehomed are prioritised.

When he questioned how long it would take for someone banded silver – the middle priority – to be found a home, the housing officer could not guarantee it would be within a year.

Coun Wells said: “23 homes built in the last nine months is really paltry, it doesn’t even scratch the surface of our current need.

“How many years is it going to take satisfy 1,400 people on the waiting list, a figure which is only going to grow. At this rate we’ll be into another century.

“The reality is for many, many people the likelihood of gaining a suitable property is pretty minimal.

“We need to find a way of housing our key workers in the district, our teachers, police officers and nurses.

“They earn relatively modest incomes, do an incredibly important job but are finding it very difficult to access property.”

Coun Wells called on the district council take a lead on encouraging more affordable housing in

Malvern ensuring a high proportion of affordable properties were included in development proposals and permitting schemes with more smaller properties rather than four and five bedroom homes.

Gary Williams, head of planning, economy and housing, defended the council’s development policies and argued there were up to 350 properties put up for re-let every year to help meet housing need and added there were more than 100 homes currently being developed.

He said: “MHDC do not provide new homes directly. We negotiate planning agreements for private developments and facilitate social housing developments by registered providers. The latter have declined in recent years due to reductions in Government funding

“A significant number of new homes on private developments have received planning consent in recent months, in most cases these sites will deliver 40 per cent affordable housing.”

Mr Williams also argued only a small proportion of new developments were four bedroom homes or larger, adding it was ‘impossible’ to tell how long someone on the waiting list could wait for a home as it depended on the available properties which came up.

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