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South Devon Housing Crisis

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We have a housing crisis in South Devon, and we need more homes. 

Liberal Democrats know that a home is a necessity and the base on which people build their lives. We believe that everyone has the right to a safe and decent home which meets their needs.

 

There are not enough homes to meet demand and there are far too many homes in a dire condition; a risk to the safety and health of residents. Year on year, government house building targets are missed and the chronic shortage of affordable and social housing has left thousands of people homeless.​​

I believe we are building the wrong houses in the wrong places— and developers who want to build as quickly and cheaply as possible to ensure maximum profit are driving that decision. 

Why are they allowed to get away with this? Often because of the vast funding that they give the Conservative Party.

A Different kind of development

We must be far more imaginative about what we build - and serious about creating communities rather than just parking loads of people in isolated housing estates and not adequately integrating them into existing communities. 

Never again do I want to see an estate with hundreds of houses going up without a community venue or hall right at the heart of it. Without this kind of space, where will the young mums with toddlers meet each other? Where will older people be able to get together for coffee, keep fit, form a choir, or play bridge? Where can parents hold kids' birthday parties, or neighbours hold community meetings? 

It's SO vital to build a new community successfully, and yet developers tell me they 'are not obliged' by planning regulations to create community spaces, so they don't bother. It costs money. 

New built homes sold on the open market here start at £295,000. To afford a home at this price, annual income must be between £60,000 and £70,000. In other words, it is entirely out of the reach of most people earning local wages. This kind of development does little to help anyone trying to get on the housing ladder, local people, and young families desperate to buy a home. 

What I want to see—and I will be working hard with my colleagues at SHDC to try and deliver this—is the type of housing we see being built by other Lib Dem run councils elsewhere in the country: houses with renewable power built-in (why we are not doing that already is an absolute scandal) and mixed housing of different sizes and prices. 

Prioritising wellbeing 

But I also want to see developments prioritising wellbeing—open spaces, cycle paths, bus stops, and local services. We need to consider school places and healthcare provision. We must stop throwing up hundreds of houses and expect local infrastructure to absorb all those people and cars. We also must address the issue of developers not having to do any sewage upgrades before adding enormous new pressure to an already creaking system.

We must consider where people will work, how they will move around, and what makes for thriving communities.

Second homes and holiday lets 

I want to see much stricter legislation around AirBnB, particularly damaging to communities in popular areas like ours, and better legislation for long-term landlords. We need to be clever with mortgages and taxes to encourage landlords to rent for the long term at realistic prices rather than offering short-term lets. 

 

Liberal Democrats want to give local authorities new powers to control second homes and short-term lets in their areas. We would:
 

  • Close the holiday let tax loophole and withdraw mortgage tax relief from people with holiday lets to encourage property owners to make homes available for local people.
     

  • Introduce a new planning class for holiday lets and second homes so that homes could not be converted into holiday lets without being given planning consent to do so.
     

  • Remove the 70 days per year tax relief available to people renting out their second home.
     

  • Allow local authorities to increase council tax by up to 500 per cent where homes are being bought as second homes.

See a summary of our housing policy passed at our conference in September 2023: 

Tackling the Housing Crisis - Liberal Democrats  (Summary) 

 

Read the full motion here:

Tackling the Housing Crisis - Liberal Democrats (Motion in full) 

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