Traveller sites, second homes and crackdowns on unscrupulous landlords — all key points in a new draft housing strategy for the Isle of Wight.
The five-year strategy, which sets out policies on housing supply, affordability and extra care housing for elderly and disabled people, has been published by the Isle of Wight Council and will now go to public consultation.
Attitudes to developments “need to change”
It highlights a need for new housing on the Island but recognises new developments are unpopular — and states those attitudes need to change.
The strategy states new homes are particularly unpopular among older people, many of whom have moved or retired to the Island.
Objections often cite pressure on the Island’s infrastructure. The council said changes to developer contributions would help, although it would not be possible to require new developments to pay for existing problems.
Reducing 10,000 homes target
One key element is reducing the number of homes planned for the Isle of Wight. The current housing target, set by the government, is 10,000 homes over the next 15 years.
The council has proposed building 100 houses a year, led by the local authority, with affordable homes a priority.
Explore allocation of traveller sites
The council plans to explore the allocation of traveller sites. Government funding has been made available to build traveller sites and provide a safe place to access water and sanitation.
The strategy notes the ‘stark reality’ that there are not enough affordable houses to meet the needs of even the most vulnerable people. Since 2011, only 559 affordable houses have been built.
A new ‘affordability tool’ will be introduced, based on local wages and housing costs, to determine affordability for individual households.
Adding to the problem is the number of second homes on the Island — one in six are second homes — which has inflated prices.
Crackdown on unscrupulous landlords
Unscrupulous landlords, who knowingly rent unsafe and substandard accommodation, will face a crackdown.
The council has pledged to support good landlords by reducing red tape.
More independent living for older people will be created, such as the 82 extra care units set to be built at the former Sandham Middle School site.
The strategy will run alongside the Island Plan.
Abraham: “Increasing housing choice is essential”
Cabinet member for planning and housing, Cllr Barry Abraham, said:
“Our vision for housing is to enable everyone living on the Island to have a place they call home.
“While most of us on the Island are well-housed, that may change if we do not act.
“The house you are living in may suit you now, but what will happen as you get older, or your family circumstances change?
“Increasing housing choice is essential for us all to achieve maximum independence and to have better life chances.
“It will also keep young people from needing to leave the Island to gain affordable housing.”
Thomas: “Unique opportunity to address its housing needs”
Paul Thomas, assistant director of the Isle of Wight Council’s regeneration service, said:
“The Isle of Wight, a UNESCO Biosphere and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is one of the most beautiful and attractive places to live and visit in England.
“The Island currently faces a unique opportunity to address its housing needs for the future.
“We will deliver a sustainable and ambitious housing strategy that reflects our Island status and the needs of local people and businesses, and allows our unique local heritage of landscapes and communities to thrive.”
To read the draft housing strategy you can visit the council’s Website.
The consultation will run until midnight on Friday, 13th March and will be used to develop the final housing strategy.
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some alterations and additions may be been made by OnTheWight. Ed