National and local politicians have two recurrent domestic obsessions – the NHS and the lack of affordable housing. Typically, irrespective of political leaning, none of the major parties have established wither a cohesive policy not can they boast significant success.
The current administration has a confused and confusing approach to the matter – three separate companies administer their strategy:
- Sutton Housing Partnership (SHP) manage the Council’s estate
- Encompass are there to manage demand for housing and homelessness
- Sutton Living are developers.
Running alongside this group, the Council has an internal operation running a Council house development strategy.
However, it is where reality of these strands meets the 2018 Local Plan and its site allocations and rules. For example, there was a ruling in that Plan that there should be no developments in the town centre of Sutton higher than 8 storeys. At Planning Committee, a proposal for a 20-storey block of flats, all deemed affordable and with no parking was approved on the casting vote of the current Liberal Democrat Chair.
If that was not enough, the Council then presented a plan to develop their own site at Beech Tree Place on the outer edge of the town where the Local Plan dictated nothing more than 6 storeys and the plan was approved at 8 storeys!
And recently the plan to redevelop the B & Q site with three blocks, one of which is to be Affordable Housing means a huge increase in housing stock, or rather flats, yet no attention is paid to infrastructure – doctors, schools etc.
If we are planning for the future, there should be a cohesive plan that is adhered to and not adapted to suit political imperatives.