CABINET CALL: By South Holland Council portfolio holder for housing Christine Lawton
Empty nest syndrome – the phenomenon felt by parents whose children have finally left the family home – may be less common than it was.
A recent study by Shelter suggests that one of the effects of the recession in South Holland was that almost 3,000 working people between 20 and 34 were living with their parents.
I’m sure many of these young people would like to enter the property market and local authorities are in a strong position to lead new housing investment.
As a stock-housing authority with an established and successful housing team, we are well placed to develop such plans.
Nationally there is a need for at least 250,000 new homes annually and in South Holland evidence-based research suggests that at least 500 new homes per year are required.
We need to address the need for different housing provision – for example 56 per cent of South Holland’s houses are three bedroom detached – much higher than the national average of 23 per cent.
Research indicates that our focus should be on smaller homes with an emphasis on two bedroom houses for young families and ‘downsizers’.
While recognising the need for housing growth it is important that we insist on quality as well as quantity.
We plan to establish our own housing company with the purpose of developing a range of solutions including affordable and market housing both for sale or rent.
We have also continued with our council house building programme and are investigating the present niche-market of self-builds where there is potential for growth.
Extra care provision is also needed locally. The fact we are all living longer is great news but high quality provision is necessary to ensure the elderly and frail can be comfortable and secure.
I am proud that South Holland District Council continues to provide its own high-quality housing stock and has been a solid builder of new homes.
We must and will rise to the challenge of providing more new homes to allow young people and families to live in decent conditions in our towns and villages – that way our communities will continue to thrive.