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Mere houses blighted by bureaucracy

June 8, 2011 1:02 PM

Wiltshire council southern area planning committee is being asked to consider amendments to a scheme which was meant to provide low-cost housing for local people. Six houses in Downside Close are covered by the scheme. Three were completed in 2009, of which two have remained empty since then, and three more are just being finished.

The properties are covered by a legal agreement which requires them to be sold at rates well below the market value, so that they can be bought by local people who couldn't afford a full mortgage. The problem is however that lenders are unwilling to make mortgages available because of the complexity of the legal requirements. There have to be caveats imposed to prevent the initial buyer from simply selling on at the full price and to allow the housing to be kept affordable 'in perpetuity'.

Previous attempts to resolve this with the lenders have failed, so councillors are being asked to authorise officers to make more concessions, and if necessary to allow the houses to be sold on the open market.

Government ministers often speak in favour of such schemes, and similar concepts such as shared ownership, but councils and housing associations are finding that the practical difficulties mean that these methods of delivering 'affordable' housing don't have a high success rate.