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Alresford residents call for cheaper homes
12:52pm Thursday 14th March 2013 in Winchester
ALRESFORD residents want to see cheaper house prices rather than social housing schemes in the town over the next 20 years.
The meeting was organised by the town council sub-group on housing, set up to look at the issue following the controversy over the town council’s plan for 500 homes in the next 20 years including development on farmland off Sun Lane and the relocation of Perins School.
According to the Local Plan, 40 per cent of all new housing will be affordable housing, through shared ownership and cheaper rents.
But several residents said more should be done to ensure young people can afford to buy their own homes.
Kirsty Williams, 39, of Appledown Lane, said: “I cannot understand how you are going to bring people in to Alresford. You have to save for 10 years to get a deposit together.
“What do you do if you are not in the right bracket for affordable housing but you cannot afford to buy your own?”
Her partner Anthony Harwin, 38, said: “How do you control the open market? We need more two-bedroom houses to bring people in but we cannot do it because the open market means prices are too high.”
Steve Seymour, 45, a software engineer of Meryon Road, added: “Young people in Alresford have said they cannot remain here because they cannot afford it.
“You have to satisfy criteria to get on the waiting list for social housing, but there’s a gap between that and the private market. Saying we need 40 per cent social housing is totally different to 40 per cent truly affordable housing.”
Steve Opacic, head of strategic planning at Winchester City Council, said the council could not directly affect market prices but that the new developments could help.
He said: “If someone is looking for a two-bedroom home in Alresford there might be five or 10 on the market at one time.
“But if you are building a development of 100 or 200 houses there will at least double that on the market. It might not drive prices down but it may at least stop them being driven up.”
He added: “We are mindful of those people who do not qualify for affordable housing and cannot get enough for a deposit on a house; it’s not an unfamiliar situation for us, but we have to do what we can within the system for those who need affordable homes.”
The city council plans to build 12,500 more homes in the district by 2031, with Alresford one of several villages and towns expected to provide sites.
The sub-group recruited volunteers to look at affordable housing, market prices and the size of houses to report back at the next meeting on Wednesday, April 10.
Other sub-groups are looking at open spaces, infrastructure and employment generated by the new build.
But no decision on sites for the homes will be made until May.