Senior Milton Keynes Conservative criticises Government’s affordable housing policy

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A Government decision to relax the requirement of developers to provide affordable homes in their plans will create problems in the future, according to a senior Tory at Milton Keynes Council.

Amendments made to planning laws last year made it easier for developers to negotiate with local authorities over the number of affordable homes they must supply - previously set at 30 per cent.

According to a report in The Guardian, David Hopkins, deputy leader of the council, said: “They are setting up problems not today or next year but in five years time, and there will be a shortage of affordable housing. That will lead to problems in the service sector and public sector because people won’t be able to afford to live in Milton Keynes.”

The report states that the town will build 500 fewer affordable homes over the next five years as a result of thr policy change.

Mr Hopkins has written to the planning minister, Nick Boles, calling for the policy to be dropped as it “unfairly and inappropriately favours the interest of developers over the needs of present and future residents”.

The policy was introduced to prevent developments flatlining as property prices fell but with an upturn in the market there is growing pressure to drop it.

Andrew Pakes, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Milton Keynes South, said: “This is more evidence of the affordable housing crunch with more people trapped in rent or unable to get on the property ladder. There should be no reason why we don’t have enough affordable housing in a fast-growing city like Milton Keynes. Yet this latest extent shows the true extent of the contradictions in Conservative policy with councillors and ministers desperately trying to pass the buck for a collapse in new affordable homes.

“The pioneering spirit of Milton Keynes was about allowing families to get a hold on the property ladder but this dream is slipping further away from many people, particularly young couples.”

Lib Dem group leader, Councillor Douglas McCall said: “When the Lib Dems ran Milton Keynes, and I was the cabinet member for strategic planning, we introduced the requirement for developers to build 30 per cent affordable housing. I am pleased that all parties in MK want to maintain this important policy. National government is putting at risk the long term sustainable future of Milton Keynes to help increase the profits of developers. The policy must be reversed.”

The news follows the launch of Labour’s campaign for the forthcoming council elections on May 22.

Harriet Harman launched the local campaign earlier this month and the creation of affordable housing was touted as being a priority.

Labour Group Leader, Cllr Pete Marland, described as manifesto as ‘ambitious for the future of Milton Keynes’ and focused on the issues that people had raised with the party on the doorstep.

Speaking after the launch, Councillor Pete Marland said: “We want to ensure that people who’ve grown up in the city aren’t priced out of renting or buying here, we will make affordable housing a priority and set a target of building 200 new council houses. We will also make MK a Living Wage borough, paying fair wages to council staff and contractors, and helping to attract the best employers to the city. We are ambitious for Milton Keynes and a vote for Labour says you feel the same.”