Nationally the main issues might be seen as:
Cost & Availability: Young people, i.e. under 35s, are being priced out of the housing market in the areas that are most desirable and convenient for the workplace. A million more young adults are living with their parents than 15 years ago, official statistics show.
Supply: Building more homes does not necessarily reduce house pricing, as developers generally build according to demand. In 2017/18 the housing industry built almost 218,000 homes which should be viewed against the newest government target of 300,000 homes per annum. The gap between market housing and government target could be filled by Housing Associations and/or Local Authorities building more affordable homes, of which there should be a high percentage of social homes for rent.
Households v Dwellings: The number of new homes being built has failed to keep pace with population growth and the growing trend of more people living alone, coupled with the problem of affordability. i.e average house prices in Britain increased by more than 75% between 2003 and 2018 to £223,612. The average weekly rent in England has risen from £153 to £193 in the last decade i.e. 26%. This means that renters either have less deep pockets than purchasers or less access to the Bank of Mum and Dad. Otherwise the affordable housing crisis would have been even worse.
Particular local issues in Bath include:
Student housing: Large-scale provision of student housing across Bath, including Purpose Built Student Accommodation (PBSAs), which has pre-empted the provision of housing for local people.
Short term rentals: These are displacing long-term housing at an increasing rate. Currently it is estimated that there are some 1500 short-term rental properties in Bath, including about 70 'party houses' (short term rental of large properties for 7 or more people) which can be a source of nuisance to neighbours.
What should FOBRA do? Encourage B&NES Council in the following:
1. Procurement and erection of high spec modular houses on derelict Council land. The Council's initial target is 200 dwellings ( 50 in the next 4 years), but this needs to be substantially increased.
2.Publishing a revised WECA Joint Spatial Plan in good time. This includes the robust identification of 105,000 new homes in Strategic Development Locations (SDLs).
3.Bringing empty homes in Bath into the public realm.
4.Proposing a comprehensive student housing policy in conjunction with the universities, including: (a) amendment of the current A4D SPD in relation to HMOs, (b) regulation of PBSAs as well as HMOs and (c) introduction of the 'Oxford Model' whereby universities must propose building of accommodation on campus to match any increase of students inherent in any Planning Application proposing additional teaching space.
5.Regulation of short term lets, Airbnb, party Houses etc... These need regulation by Government to create a fair and level playing field, perhaps with a new use category in planning terms, or, if this is not successful, the same regulations as now apply to HMOs. Lobbying our local MP to bring pressure on use of Government time for this.
Graham Feltham, 24th Feb 2020