Story: Lisa Swift, Saleema Imam, Douglas Johnson
Affordable housing was not on the agenda for Councillors in March, despite concern from residents, Burngreave Community Action Forum and Burngreave New Deal for Communities.
In January, New Deal withdrew its investment of £1million, following a Council decision to reduce the amount of affordable housing to be built in Woodside. With only about 30 of the 200 new homes likely to be classed as ‘affordable’ much of the development will be out of reach for residents of Burngreave. 40 residents attended the BCAF quarterly meeting on 22nd February, to discuss the issue, and expressed concern about a growing housing crisis.
One resident told the meeting:
“My grandson had to rent from a landlord, when he would have loved a Council house. You just don’t know how landlords will treat them.”
Another said she had been waiting six years for a Council property. While a young woman explained:
“I want to be able to buy a small house, two bedrooms maybe, but with things as they are I can’t afford it in Burngreave. Young people have no chance.”
In defense of the plans council officers said:
“The decision has been made by Councillors in cabinet, the Council has other capitol commitments.”
David Reid, chairing the meeting, read out a resolution supporting the increase in affordable housing for Woodside and it was agreed that BCAF would host a meeting for potential councillors before the May elections (see this month's Burngreave Opportunities advert).
At the New Housing Project Group, on 27th February, Council officers explained the Councils ‘capitol commitments’ meant spending money made on the sale of Woodside, on work the Council must do across the city.
The Project Group, which is supposed to involve residents in the planning of new housing for the area, was told the decision about the number of affordable homes on Woodside was a political one, and can be changed. The Group asked for the development process to be delayed so that it could be raised with Councillors at the next Area Panel on 22nd March.
Councillors denied the request to put the matter on the agenda, but at the meeting were pushed to response to why “affordable housing” was not up for discussion.
There was no clear answer. Instead, David Shepherd, the council’s lead manager for the area, said he hoped the council would press ahead with the tendering process for developers for the Woodside estate.
In response to demands for more affordable housing, he stated that council policy was to stick with the minimum level of 15%, even though residents pointed out the Masterplan itself had recommended 20%.
The Messenger has learned that the development of Woodside is due to go ahead as planned, with the first step of asking developers to submit tenders for the work from April.
Next episode: Monday 23rd April 7.00pm at Verdon St Recreation Centre. Come along and ask your questions, get some answers.
You can find out more about the Woodside proposals by downloading the Power Point presentation below: