Wyre attacks Shelter over housing statistics

Michael Hunt

Wyre Council has hit back at claims made by charity Shelter that the borough ranks among the worst in the country for delivering enough affordable homes to meet local need.

Garry Payne, director of planning and regeneration at the council, said: "I am very disappointed at the blinkered comments by Shelter chief executive Campbell Robb claiming that Wyre needs to work harder to provide affordable homes.

"Had he taken the time to talk to us rather than accept the figures at face value he would have learned about the strong commitment of the council and its partners and the large strides we have already taken towards meeting almost impossible targets.

"Since 2008, our planning committee has granted approval to developments across Wyre with provision for a total of 232 affordable homes, with another 29 pending, although some of these have stalled due to market conditions

"We have also supported one developer in successfully securing almost £1m of Kick Start funding which means 58 affordable homes in Fleetwood in addition to those already secured via a section 106 agreement, giving a total of 70.

"And our largest registered social landlord, Regenda, has declared Wyre a gold authority for development investment after having to prioritise the areas it focuses development on. To have them pledge a long-term partnership with the borough shows they recognise our proactive approach to proving affordable homes.

"It is correct to state that 600 affordable homes per year are needed to meet need in Wyre and this is in addition to market housing. What has to be realised is that a borough that is 60% rural, open countryside and green belt, will never be able to develop out at such a high level.

"In addition, housing associations would never be able to access funds to support development of such magnitude.

"What Mr Robb also fails to recognise is that Wyre historically had a significant number of families on the homeless list but through the introduction of an imaginative homelessness policy, for the past two years the level of homeless families has been maintained at zero per cent. We welcome comments from Mr Robb on this significant achievement."

Founded in 1966, Shelter is a charity that was set up to help secure affordable housing for those who are homeless or are suffering in bad housing conditions.

Shelter said councils across England have been ranked "on the extent to which they and their partners have met the need for new affordable housing in their area". Shelter said this has been done using data sources in the public arena.

Shelter added that it looked at the average number of new affordable homes delivered in each area over a three year period, using statistics taken from the Communities and Local Government website. It said it gave "the fairest assessment as it takes account of the situation over time, smoothing out temporary blips".

Shelter then divided the average number of new affordable homes delivered by the number of new affordable homes needed in each area each year. Shelter said this showed what percentage of the annual need for new affordable homes is being met. It argued that "the more the council met the need for affordable housing, the higher the council appears on the ranking".

The housing league for the North West produced by Shelter showed the following results:

Council

Population density

Affordable housing delivered

Affordable housing needed (Shelter's experts' estimates)

Proportion of affordable need delivered %

Overall rank

Warrington

1,086

270

171

158

4

Halton

1,514

90

118

76

18

Barrow

921

13

20

67

22

Blackpool

4,064

63

140

45

38

Cheshire East

310

247

577

43

43

Bolton

1,880

137

347

39

57

Blackburn with Darwen

1,027

133

426

31

78

Rochdale

1,305

90

299

30

83

Preston

927

83

401

21

138

Oldham

1,543

70

343

20

143

Liverpool

3,888

463

2,345

20

153

Tameside

2,089

110

569

19

156

Carlisle

100

37

221

17

172

Lancaster

250

495

16

176

Cheshire West & Chester

359

80

1,192

177

St Helens

1,302

187

306

15

185

Trafford

2,007

47

892

15

191

Eden

24

33

227

15

196

South Lakeland

68

97

733

13

209

Manchester

4,014

317

2,448

13

215

Salford

2,277

167

1,327

13

217

Ribble Valley

100

30

264

11

230

Knowsley

1,744

90

826

11

235

Stockport

2,229

93

875

11

239

Wyre

393

53

590

9

263

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