Is this house affordable?

On Friday I attended the Planning Policy Panel. With a new Authority you need new Policies. This Panel is looking at all the previous 6 District Polices with the aim of making up Policies that will work for Cornwall. A large item on the Agenda was about Affordable Housing.

The words Affordable Housing is a little confusing. How can a house be classed as affordable if no-one can afford it? Cornwall is historically an area of minimum wage. The official figures claim that average wage in Cornwall is £20k. I believe the figure is more likely around the £16k mark once you take out the unusual big earners that tend to skew stats like these.  If you use the rule of thumb rate of 3% X your wage then you can’t buy much of a house when the average price of a 3 bed house is £180k.

This Panel has after a great deal of hard work and taking in account the build and other associated costs has come up with some figures.On face value these figures seem sensible, but they still fall into the old trap of how affordable are they. A good part of the Policy is the rents of these houses if you can’t get a Mortgage.

A few of the figures being mentioned to buy are in the region of £83k for a 2 bed and £97k for a 3. Its still not affordable if you don’t earn enough, but at least its a step in the right direction. If you can’t get a mortgage then the rent on a social house could be between £390-£451 depending on whether its 2 or 3 bed. Now to me that is affordable. I currently pay £550 for a 2 bed on the open market and would welcome more social rental like this.

We (as in Cornwall Council) are still a long way of of making more homes affordable. A lot of that is because we need Grant funding from Central Government to help pay for the cost of building the houses. Something that I hope changes soon or else we will never get anywhere. Not a single Councillor there was under any illusion on how difficult task this is going to be, but wants to make it happen.


  • Charlotte MacKenzie

    There are things the Council could do which would make a difference: adopt a 50 per cent affordable target in their housing and core strategy; make looking for new housing sites part of the review of Council owned properties and land; and keep sites in public ownership so that the price of land is not added to the cost of building a house.

  • juderobinson

    Andrew – would be good to talk about this. There are ways of delivering affordable homes but not always best to go the rsl route.

    And if the Libs and Tories could stop using the RSS and nimbyness as a political football for a minute….

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