- Posted by: Canterbury Labour
- Category: News
A scheme which would allow the City Council to dispose of some or all of its 5,500 rented homes, buried in the recently released draft Local Plan, has been uncovered by Canterbury Labour Group.
The Plan has already generated massive local and national attention because of the unprecedented proposal to end residents’ ability to drive directly between various zones of the City.
The Labour Group considers this to be a deliberate distraction from radical proposals relating to social housing which could end the Council’s role as a social Landlord, and in so doing adversely affect the lives of thousands of residents in the District.
The proposals are set out in Draft policy DS3. In summary, this sets out a major change in Housing Policy. It appears that this policy would:
- almost certainly remove 100% of the social rental housing on selected estates
- allow developers to cherry pick the estates involved to create the maximum profit
- change the basis of rents from social rents to ‘affordable’ rents, defined as 80% of market rates
- transfer Council tenancies to private providers
- encourage much higher density housing estates
- cause massive upheaval and stress for our tenants
- fail to address the housing waiting list and potentially make more people homeless
- allow the Council to cut the majority of staff working in housing management
It is unclear what will happen to those properties on the affected estates which have been bought under the Right to Buy legislation. These include not only houses and terraced homes, but flats within blocks still owned by the City Council.
Labour Group Leader, Cllr Dave Wilson, said:
“This is a secret plan to sell off council housing. There is nothing in this policy which is required if the Council was intending simply to upgrade its existing stocks itself, or even to build new Council homes. The Council has the power to do either of those things without any need for a policy within the Local Plan.
“The policy set out has never been discussed in any Council forum, never been approved by any Council body, and never been previously consulted on.
“Council officers have confirmed that this policy directly targets existing council estates which ‘may’ be in poor condition. Since these are the only estates over which the Council has any power, and other social landlords have relatively small holdings which are not in generally poor condition, it is quite clear that this policy is primarily aimed at Council housing.
“No-one disagrees that there is a need to improve and upgrade the Council’s property, and everyone acknowledges the challenge in bringing the estates up to modern standards and specifically to achieve zero-carbon operation.
“But policies to address problems with the Council’s housing stock should be brought forward through the normal publicly accountable mechanisms, not sneaked in, buried in the depths of 600 pages of consultation on something else altogether. Above all, our tenants should be fully consulted before their homes demolished, their landlord changed, their rents significantly increased, and their lives uprooted.
“The disregard for real public engagement and the underhand way this is being brought forward are sadly entirely consistent with the Council’s current leadership.
“The potential impact of this policy is so significant one has to wonder if the whole purpose of the zoning proposal was to distract attention from this.”