Priority Three: Build, Build, Build – Genuinely affordable housing to buy and rent


House prices and rents have continued to rise over the last year, making it even more difficult to afford to live in the Borough. The only effective response to this is the provision of new, genuinely affordable housing to buy or to rent at social rent levels. The Council and its partners must be far more ambitious and use its powers now as a registered provider to build itself rather than rely on others. This will generate much needed rental income to invest in public services.

Many young people growing up in Tunbridge Wells have little prospect of being able to afford to live in the place they grew up without positive action on this issue.  Many residents are on lengthy waiting lists, living in unsuitable, costly temporary accommodation or unaffordable, poor quality private sector rented housing.

Developers should not be given the green light to concrete over our green spaces with housing that is not affordable and does not have the appropriate infrastructure. Paddock Wood and our rural areas are under increasing pressure from over-development and the impact of new housing needs to be properly assessed against the social benefit gained from new genuinely affordable housing which delivers community benefit.

We need:

  • more homes for young people, low income households, key workers and others who want to raise their families in the towns and villages where they grew up;
  • genuinely affordable housing to buy, or for ‘social rent’;
  • and a rebalancing of the law towards longer-term rentals and better security for tenants including the scrapping of no fault section 21 evictions.

Labour plan to “give local authorities and communities new powers to develop land for more affordable housing and revitalise high streets and town centres by reforming out of date land purchasing powers. Alongside this, the Party would close loopholes developers exploit to avoid building more affordable housing and give first time buyers first dibs on new developments. Labour would also put an end to the outrageous practice of foreign buyers purchasing swathes of new housing developments off plan, before local people can even see them.”

Locally Labour is ambitious. Changes to the ‘right to buy’ legislation mean the Council now has powers to reinvest, by building homes themselves with the proceeds to replace social housing stock that is lost.

The Council must use these powers to work with partners to deliver genuinely affordable homes, just as many Labour run and coalition Councils, like Norwich, Rother, Crawley and London Boroughs have already done. 

Labour Councillors will:

  1. Help deliver a programme of new social housing in the Borough, to support the development of mixed communities, including in rural towns and villages, so people have the choice of genuinely affordable housing to buy or rent in the places where they grew up.
  2. Ensure that the target of 40% affordable housing in the Local Plan is met and the proportion provided at social rents is increased.
  3. Ensure development provides the homes that meet the needs of the future, particularly for the elderly and disabled, young and key workers, and ensure that all development is accompanied by investment in infrastructure, to lessen the pressure on services in local communities.
  4. Provide better support to private sector tenants, ensuring the Council’s housing services engage with private landlords to improve the quality of housing, enforce Government-set minimum energy efficiency standards and protect renters’ rights.
  5. Ensure that all social landlords invest in the standard of their homes and are responsive to concerns raised by their tenants.
  6. Oppose new development that does not meet the 40% affordable housing requirement in the local plan or provide the appropriate infrastructure in order to not harm existing communities.