Affordable housing problem "unsolvable"

Tackling the problem of affordable housing locally is like asking “How do you solve the unsolvable?”, National Park authority members were told last week.

Lyn Hambidge, Pembrokeshire County Council’s head of housing commissioning, made the comments to a newly-formed National Park scrutiny committee as it heard from a number of speakers on the subject of affordable housing in the park, and what could be done to increase it.

Ms Hambidge told members: “The sad thing is whatever policies we have in place we will always have greater need than we have provision.”

She said the amount of money coming from the Welsh Government through the social housing grant had fallen from £3.3million in 2009/10 to £1.7million in 2011/12 and would be reducing further to £1.5million.

Figures showed delivery of affordable units within the National Park was far lower than outside and she questioned whether the park’s higher requirements for allocation of affordable housing was stopping developments, but agreed it was a fine balance.

Cllr Tony Brinsden asked if pressure was being put on social housing by immigration from other areas.

Ms Hambidge explained the county council was using all the powers available to prioritise local people but said there was a debate as to what a ‘local’ person actually was.

Matthew Owens, the rural housing enabler for Pembrokeshire, said he had discovered a ‘hidden housing need’ with 82% of those in need not on the common housing register.

He said: “Affordable housing is quite an emotive subject in rural communities and letting community councils know local people are going to benefit is important.”

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