Last Thursday I met with residents of Boulthurst Way following our decision to put an open site forward in the Local Plan. I didn’t consult with megaphone diplomacy on Social Media. I went and spoke to them.
I was asked if the 9,400 OAN was for Oxted? I was glad to correct a misconception that it was for Tandridge and over twenty years.
I pointed out that this annual need represented 1.3% of our current housing stock. The Surrey District average is 1.2%, Sevenoaks 1.3% and Croydon 1.4%. So contrary to the claims; our OAN target is not flawed and very much in line with our neighbouring authorities.
There is a huge moral dilemma for us all. We all value our Green Belt and openness but we also need to provide houses for our residents.
Our Council Housing stock stands at 2,068 dwellings plus 15 rooms at our hostel. We have 1,186 households on our waiting list with 204 of those high priority.
So far this year we have housed 62 households from our list. No – not households from Croydon; they all live in Tandridge.
Let me just give you one example of a family on our waiting list.
A couple and two young children came to us this year after their private landlord asked them to leave as he intended to sell the property. Both adults work in the south of the district, where their children attend local schools.
They face a wait of approximately two years in a unit of temporary accommodation before we can rehouse them.
I posed this question: “Would you want to live in our temporary accommodation sharing bathrooms with other households?”
But it’s not just Council Houses we need to build.
I was impressed with the Woking model of how they build houses for key workers such as teachers and health care professions retaining the house as an asset.
I want to give you two staggering statistics:
- The average house price in Tandridge is now 14 times our average income which compares to a ratio of 6 twenty years ago. No one but the super-rich can afford to buy in our District today.
- Twenty years ago, 13,100 or 17% of our population were over 65 years old. Today it is 17,400 or 20% of our population and in twenty years it is forecast at 27,200 or 27%.
We are living longer and this is the prime driver for housing need and for the pressure on our health centres.
At many of the larger houses in Tandridge you will find three or more cars in the drive that is because increasingly our households have more than two adults as our children cannot afford to buy or rent in the District.
To buy an average house with a Mortgage you have to earn 3.5 times the average Tandridge salary. This is why doctors and teachers yet alone nurses and teaching assistants cannot afford to live here.
Last year we took an historic decision to build council houses for the first time in twenty five years. We have built eight so far, with a further ten under construction and twelve planned which is not enough.
The truth is we need more homes for local people, starter homes, more affordable homes and yes Council Houses and smaller private occupied two & three bedroom homes in our District to meet the needs of our residents.