Harlow Council’s Local Plan requires house builders to provide 30% of their new homes as ‘affordable’ in the hope that local people looking for a new home can afford to remain in the town. At the heart of any Local Plan is the requirement to assess what new homes are likely to be needed in the following decade or so and provide certainty to housebuilders as to what type and where homes can be built.
In late May, not for the first time, a developer looking to build homes on the former service bays at The Stow presented a scheme to the Planning Committee. The applicant stated that as the scheme stood, they were unable to build any affordable homes on the site and offered the Council £50,000 in exchange for relaxing this 30% requirement, money which it must be said the Council can only use to build new homes. This sum would build at best half a new home.
The scheme was accepted as it stood on a vote of 7 to 3, by Councillors from both Labour and Conservative
The same committee recently gave Planning Permission for the first of many new flat blocks proposed for the Town Centre, despite only 8% of the homes being ‘affordable’. Residents in Harlow desperate for a new home must be wondering when the Council will ever adhere to it’s own policy in respect of ensuring ‘affordable’ homes are built.
As a footnote, property investors are now being targeted by the builders of these new flats in the Town Centre, with starting prices for a bedsit of £199,000 rising to £399,000 for the largest homes. One can only guess what rents will be charged by these investors once the properties have been built. They will be out of reach for most local residents on an average Harlow wage.
The Harlow Alliance Party are the only Party who would tell potential house builders that unless they bring forward a scheme which meets the 30% affordable target, Planning Permission will not be given and that they should only come back with a scheme that does.