Too many young people in Waverley are still stuck in their parents’ homes, and more and more key workers are having to commute into Farnham because they cannot afford to live here.
It’s a situation that is incredibly bad for the prosperity and health of our community.
We are an ageing population with a shortage of NHS and social care workers. And we have a lot of young families who face a shortage of nursery places and youth provision.
In both cases this is, at least in part, down to the fact that rents and house prices are out of reach for so many.
Labour is committed to appropriate and genuinely affordable housing that won’t sap already stretched infrastructure. So I am very pleased that in spite of the interminable squabbling between the Tories and Farnham Residents Party councillors, Waverley Borough Council finally agreed a policy in March on affordable housing for this area.
It means almost one in every three new homes in the borough will be affordable, either delivered through a housing association or similar, for sale on a part-rent, part-buy basis or through the First Homes scheme.
A number of criteria apply, but in summary it applies to any development of more than six homes and insists these homes remain affordable in perpetuity.
Where a developer says it is not viable to provide these homes, then they are required to fund provision elsewhere.
The question I am regularly asked on the doorstep is: “How affordable is ‘affordable’?”
It’s a good question because the government’s definition of affordable is quite high at 80 per cent of market value.
At this rate even someone earning £30,000 a year – the starting salary for a junior doctor, for example – would have less than £550 a month to live on for an average two-bed home in Farnham. That’s before any bills. Woe betide anyone earning less than this.
Labour has helped to pioneer what we call ‘Waverley Affordable’ – that’s homes in which the rents are no more than 65 to 70 per cent of market levels and cannot be sold off.
We’re proud to say we’re working on a plan for some of these homes to be delivered in Godalming, but we need them just as much in Farnham. It’s a practical and important contribution to the life and well-being of this town. It’s a policy that Labour councillors will work tirelessly for.
That’s why I urge readers to vote on May 4 to elect more Labour councillors in the town and borough council elections.
Chair, Farnham Labour Party