The rise in second homes is forcing locals out says the National Housing Federation as reported by BBC News on 27th November 2010. Will housing policies make Cornwall a no-go area for the Cornish?

Seneth an Stenegow Kernow
Guaranteed by the Royal Mines Act 1693
Stannary Information Office - phone - 01209-710938
Bal Lake, Camborne, tr14 ojg kernow , G.B.
www.cornishstannaryparliament.org info@cornishstannaryparliament.org

Assistant Head of Planning and Regeneration, 29th November 2010
Cornwall Council, Affordable Housing DPD,
Circuit House,
Pydar Street,
Truro, TR1 1EB

Affordable Housing for Cornwall

1. Response to Cornwall Council’s consultation process ending 29th November 2010

2. We welcome the proposals contained in the Council’s “Affordable Housing Development Plan Document” (DPD) and support housing requirements option (a) for 75% social rented housing and 25% intermediate (DPD para 5.6.6). with evidence based local needs (DPD para.8) restricted to a verifiable local connection as defined at DPD para. 7 and Appendix 1 and DPD para.6.4. for key workers. The Council’s support for self-build projects (DPD para.6.5.3) is also worthy of encouragement.

3. However, legal constraints may frustrate the Council’s ambitions.

4. It was reported in the ‘Public Finance News’ on 10th November that a construction company had secured a successful Judicial Review judgement to nullify the government’s decision to scrap house-building targets on the grounds that is was unlawful without primary legislation.

5. Also, Hansard of 18th November 2010 at Column 1057 reveals under the heading “Socio-economic Equality Duty” that ‘The Minister of Equalities’, (Lynne Featherstone) announced that the government “intends to drop section 1 of the Equality Act 2010.

6. This may also require primary legislation.

7. There is a direct association between “equality” and “housing”.

8. The legal position of “equality” in the UK currently rests upon Directive 2000/43/EC as transposed into domestic law by Statutory Instrument 2003 No.1626 as amended by S.I. 2008 No. 3008.

9. However, sections 1, 2 and 3 of the Equality Act 2010 were intended, it is contended, to fully implement Article 3, “Scope” of Directive 2000/43/EC which covers at subsection (f) “social advantages” and at (h) “access to the supply of goods and services which are available to the public, including housing”.

10. If sections 1, 2 and 3 of the Equality Act 2010 covering “socio-economic inequalities” were to become legally excluded from the Equality Act, then, there would appear to be an official failure to accommodate equality in “social advantages” and “housing” as required under what has become known as: “The Race Directive” i.e., number: 2000/43/EC.

11. The legal position of a Directive, as agreed by Treaty, is to be found in the House of Lords judgement of Berkeley v. S of S for the Environment (2001 2AC 603 HL, para.7), which reads:-

“individuals may rely upon the Directive before a court of a Member State
to obtain from the national authorities the setting aside of the national
measures incompatible with those provisions”.

12. With this legal position in mind there is a serious accumulation of failures in misapplying the principle of equality in “social advantages and housing” in particular, in the supply of affordable housing in Cornwall, as listed below:-

13. There has been a reluctance on the part of the governments to fully implement “The Race Directive” (2000/43/EC) for equality in “social advantages and housing” even though it has published (undated but possibly in the year 2006) the “Statutory Code of Practice on Racial Equality in Housing” published by Meg Munn , M.P., Under Secretary of State. “To comply with the EU Race Directive 2000/43/EC”. It refers to “Institutional racism through racist stereotyping”.

14. The total social housing stock in Cornwall is one of the lowest in the UK.

15. The total of second homes in Cornwall, as a percentage of the total housing stock, is recorded as 13,709, (Council Tax Data – March 2010) the highest outside central London with popularity encouraged by capital allowances and loss reliefs extending to holiday lettings as a trading business. (13,709 is 5.5% of total housing stock but excluding inland towns would mean at least 10% for the coastal areas).

16. “The rise in second homes is forcing locals out”. (National Housing Federation, BBC News 27th November 2010).

17. David Gauke M.P., House of Commons 24th February 2010 in a debate initiated by Andrew George M.P. under the heading of “Property Taxation”: observes on second homes: “There is a lack of joined-up government on this”……. ”Therefore, one suspects that there was no proper assessment of the impact on local communities”. The debate makes no reference to the policies of the Department for Communities and Local Government and no reference to the second vote possibility for second home owners in local elections and its possible distortion of Cornwall’s local democracy. (Representation of the People Act 1983, section 5).

18. There was no consideration by the M.P.s of the strong possibility that a second home is likely to be part of a trading business. As a Socio-economic Equality Duty in matters of housing, it is suggested that planning permission for change of use from domestic to business should be a requirement for a second home and a holiday home.

19. On the suggestion that planning permission should be required for a second home, Margaret Beckett is reported in the Western Morning News of 24th April 2009 as stating: “It could infringe the human rights of those seeking to have a part-time bolthole”. This reflects the unique light touch regulation granted to the City of London fraternity. In any case, ‘second home owners’ are not listed under the “protected characteristics” of the Equality Act 2010.

20. The open housing market (DPD para.5.6) solution is recognised as impracticable and socially unacceptable in London where even the Crown Estate provides social support in the form of affordable housing for key workers. (on-line info). The Crown Estate operates throughout the UK except Cornwall. (DPD para.6.4). This voluntary adjustment of market forces is not matched by the “analogous landowner in Cornwall” the Duchy of Cornwall, (‘analogous’ as defined by the Crown Estate).

21. After over six hundred years of income from Cornwall, a Duchy of Cornwall donation of a small portion of its publicly guaranteed land would provide welcome assistance in providing homes that would actually be affordable with the advantage of the exclusion of land costs, and therefore, a reduction in the prices for all options at DPD para.6.3.2. Such action by the Duchy of Cornwall would help to place it on the same footing in Cornwall as is the Crown Estate in the rest of the UK. All social housing should be retained indefinitely as CC property.

22. The Councils General Policy AH1, “All new housing schemes to contribute towards meeting the affordable housing needs of Cornwall”, but unfortunately this is limited to arbitrary thresholds. It is considered essential that the proposals at DPD para.8.3.4 for Newquay and St Austell of 70% affordable homes should be taken as the Cornwall wide norm until the homeless problem is solved. Plans for schemes of over 50 units should all be the subject of a public inquiry to satisfy an integrated Cornwall wide Environmental Impact Assessment with special attention to waste and sewage disposal plans and public participation under the provisions of ‘The Aarhus Convention’. The absence of any provision for an integral waste recycling unit and sewage to fertilizer installation on the proposed St.Austell Eco-Town site would expose the use of the term “Eco” as an act of public deception.

23. “Water companies can discharge sewage directly into rivers, such as the one near Godrevy beach, Cornwall” “A tribunal has backed the water companies’ policy of not saying where raw sewage is discharged”. (The Sunday Times, 28th November 2010). Article headed – “Water Rats win right to keep pollution secret”. This appears to indicate a further urgent need for primary legislation before further building plans are permitted which could only increase the pollution of rivers and bathing waters to unacceptable levels.

24. Section 106 obligations (DPD para.7.1) for affordable housing should be legally enforceable.

25. In the current economic climate tough regulations before and after planning approvals are considered essential to prevent the abuse of the planning process and laws for environmental protection.

26. Unaddressed items in the DPD are a possible section 106 provision as the means of securing a ban on the construction of second homes and holiday homes with any future demand being met with the provision of holiday caravan parks, static or mobile. (The St. Ives Bay Holiday Village with supporting facilities located near Gwithian is a good example, though unfortunately, its very close to the Godrevy sewage outfall – above para 23).

27. The accumulation of empty domestic properties needs urgent government funding for conversions to reduce the housing waiting list.

28. While this current “DPD consultation” was in progress is was reported in the “West Briton” of 18th November 2010 that “A new village is to be built on the outskirts of Camborne”. This apparent “go ahead” for the Boiler Works Road project with no reference to affordable homes appears to indicate that there is a lack of joined up thinking in the CC’s administration.

29. The impact on Cornwall of socio-economic inequalities engendered by years of ever changing housing policies, should be seen against the background of the exclusion of the indigenous Cornish national minority, of pre-England and Celtic origins, from the social advantages of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the exclusion from the social advantages of access to an objective and factual education system. The schools history curriculum begins British history with: “Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings”. A majority nationalism which seeks to ignore and suppress the identity of the indigenous British people, who have been in Britain before and since the beginning of the Christian calendar 2010 years ago, has encouraged government policies of institutional racism which should be corrected by applying equality before the law in the decision making process.

30. It is respectfully suggested that ‘restraint prevails’ pending further consultation after the legal position is clarified. Will the CC be “at liberty to set its own housing targets” as indicated by Steve Havers, Strategic Development and Policy Manager, in his e-mail of 1st September 2010?

Yours sincerely,

Stannary Information Office.

Copies to: Alec Robertson, Cornwall Council Leader.
Julian German, Cabinet Member for Waste Management,
Climate Change and Historic Management.
Mark Kaczmarek, Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning.
Dick Cole, Chairman of the Planning Policy Advisory Panel.
Kevin Lavery, Chief Executive Officer, Cornwall Council.
Steve Havers, Strategic Development and Policy Manager.

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