Sally Thomas works for something called the Social Regeneration Consultants (SRC) and has been given space by leftie-rightie-wishy-washy think tank, Res Publica to air her views on rural housing - or rather rural "social" housing. And she relates this terrible tale:
Despite early backing from County Council planners, a positive partnership with a regional housing association keen on community investment and really good prospects for securing ring-fenced funding from the Government’s Homes and Communities Agency for precisely this type of community-led development, the plans have stalled.The reason is quite simple – private land values. The site owner is not interested in selling to anyone who wants to build affordable homes because they simply can’t provide him with enough money for his land.
You see the problem don't you? Well Sally doesn't - the truth is that land in her nice commuter village is at a premium because:
For a village community with pressing housing needs and surrounded by green belt that few wish to see developed, this is not good news.
If you want a 'green belt', you have to pay for it and that payment is captured in those land values. The sad truth however is that people such as Sally - who claim to be "social entrepreneurs" - are simply grant farmers chasing whatever taxpayers' cash there is to be got for their favoured scheme. Perhaps this community needs to think about those elderly residents who need the housing. I'm guessing that these people are already in houses and have captured in those houses the price of having that 'green belt'.
But not Sally nor the parish council nor the "regional housing association keen on community investment" seem willing to recognise this fact. So no grant means no homes despite that fact that the people who might live in those homes have the cash to build them.
I won't be rushing out for creative advice from Sally's Social Regeneration Consultants that's for sure.