B&NES Labour Group
Statement from Cllr Joe Rayment (Labour, Twerton) on Foxhill
The Labour position on this application is quite simply that it cannot be approved as it stands now, for two major reasons.
Firstly, the strength of opinion among the residents of Foxhill shows that this plan has not been – as it should have been – co-produced with the residents, taking into full consideration the wants and needs of the community.
Regeneration and improving the quality of housing is a noble endeavour, but it cannot be conducted in this way. This is the kind of thing that could have residents jumping with joy at the prospect of an improved area in which to live, and better quality housing, but instead we see residents organising, mobilising and coming to protest our Council and our biggest Registered Social Landlord.
This should be enough for the committee to today send this away and tell Curo that they must start again, with the community forming an integral part of re-developing the proposals.
Secondly, Labour cannot support the loss of social housing at a time when we have 6000 households on the housing waiting list locally.
Over 414 social rented homes are being replaced in Foxhill with just 157 social rented homes. A loss of 257.
Even if one were to count the social housing across Mulberry Park and Foxhill together, which I would argue is disingenuous to do, then you still find yourself with a net loss of 99 social rented homes.
The only way that this is being defended is by counting social rented homes across both sites as well as shared ownership across both sites, since shared ownership also falls under the ‘affordable housing’ title.
315 social rented homes and 105 shared ownership homes are not a suitable replacement for 414 social rented homes in the midst of a national and local housing crisis.
Homelessness is soaring, not just on our streets but in temporary accommodation and on the sofas of friends and family.
We will acknowledge that Curo have been forced down this path because of swingeing Government cuts over the past seven years which have seen Government failing to provide the money needed to tackle the housing crisis and build social homes.
Less than 30 years ago, 75% of the cost of each new social home was met by Government grant. That has fallen to 14% today.
At the same time, Curo has had to cut its rents by 1% each year. This will result in £40M loss of projected income for Curo over 30 years.
However, the residents of Foxhill should not be paying the price of this Government failure.
Successive reports have said that these residents have felt isolated and their voices haven’t been heard.
It is time for the Council to listen up and hear what is being said by the people who will be most affected by this proposal.
The committee must not approve this application today.