It’s Not What You Know….

729 new houses in Slade Lane have just got planning permission. A new service station, all the stuff to go with a development of that size.. roads.. whatever. Originally this was on condition of 25% affordable homes being built. Now, somehow, that’s not the case, and the planning has been approved by our beloved council and this pre-requisite of compromise has quietly been abandoned.

You can be sure that someone, somewhere, is benefitting personally from this. Not necessarily the developer, although he obviously is, but Mr Developer clearly has friends in very high places. Who are these friends?

I dare you to have a look at Rightmove website right now. Have a look for what is affordable to you in your own personal circumstances. Some of you may be lucky. You may have a bit of inheritance. You may have parents who can give you a deposit. You may be in a couple and both be on 30k a year, although that’s unlikely in this current employer climate where qualified people with degrees are being offered £9-£10 per hour. If you’re a single person, working in food retail or similar, on minimum wage, and have no access to a deposit – because you can’t save anything, because the rent your paying is pitched at refinery employee prices – then none of the houses on Rightmove are affordable to you. Bear in mind that a large part of the population locally fit into this category. Even a couple on 20k a year each can only get a mortgage for around 150k, and that’s if you have an impeccable credit history, and what working class person has that? Who has never made a mistake and got a late council tax payment sent to creditors or similar within a few weeks? Also, forget it if you’re self-employed, and forget it if you’re an employee on a zero hours or low hour contract yet working more than your contracted hours. Also, chances are if you’re looking at the cheaper end of the market, you’ll be looking at flats with leases. Mortgages companies don’t like leases. So forget that too.

These houses in Slade Lane… all 729 of them. Who are they for? They’re not for us. I imagine the prices will be upwards of 200k. They usually are. We already have lots of housing stock in Pembs for those prices. Who is buying them? Perhaps couples moving in together, who have just sold their respective smaller properties, but mostly, it’s people from away. What are the first-time buyers supposed to buy? The ones who prop up the property market? Every big sale relies on a smaller sale, so when you get to a position where there are no first time buyer properties left, because they’ve all been bought as Airb&bs, then what happens? This is completely unsustainable.

People who can afford bigger houses don’t want to be next door to people who can only afford so called affordable housing. Because they imagine that a family that can only borrow up to circa £145k must be rough, joyriding, glue sniffing serial killers. They imagine their homely estate turning into Tower Hamlets. They all live on an estate but their neat lawns compared with the unkempt lawns are the great signifier, and you can always tell who is a druggie by how often they cut their grass, obviously.

What this county needs, more than anything, is 729 affordable homes. Not £145 type affordable, because that’s bullshit. Proper affordable. Less that £120k. With homes for single people for around £60k. And not shoe boxes. Poor people like space too you know. Build them for less profit, make homes that are warm and safe and spacious that people can actually afford. Support the market so that the 729 posh houses up the road can be bought by locals moving up a ladder, and not by retirees coming here to vote tory and complain about neighbours and mud on the road. So they can be bought by families wishing to stay close to extended relatives, and not full of work from home middle executives that want to run the show the minute they enter town. The kind of people you get in villages that state on the internet once all the locals have been driven out “what a lovely safe community we have now”. I kid you not. That actually happened.

The fact that the council act at their discretion, and can deny planning to low impact homes for locals, but can pass an application that changes the entire character of a town for absolutely no local benefit is beyond me. Someone decided to approve this, and someone decided to let it through. Who is the planning officer? What did the committee say? Did no-one oppose this? Who benefits? Who is benefitting from the lorry park in the dock? Are these all the same people? How far would we have to dig to see whose pockets are being lined by all of these arbitrary decisions? How far up the council hierarchy do you need to be before this information becomes available to you? Is it like Scientology? Where you move up a level and are exposed to ever more secretive happenings? Is the fact that most of the council are attached to Masonic Lodges anything to do with this? How many times does the phrase, “Where was your mother born?” pass the lips of the people in the higher echelons, the type of people that can afford any house they want, even the stupidly large amounts of houses in Pembs that are on the market for more than a million quid? Yes, they’re on Rightmove too. Have a look. Who owns these places? What did they do to get them? Why are they selling? Who will buy them?

I know, for a fact, that money has changed hands on a number of occasions, when someone has needed to get some controversial planning through. You know how I know? Cos they guy told me. He told me who he gave the money to, and how much it was, and how many times it happened, because it was more than once. It was multiple times. I’ve heard stories and rumours about this for years. We all have. But never has someone actually told me the deets. So. I have the deets. I know who is benefitting, or I suspect, based on the knowledge I’ve received from the horse’s mouth. I’m watching. And as yet again I find myself with nothing to lose, because of the actions of people like you, I’m just waiting.

Worried yet?


Published by Tess Delaney

I mostly only come out at night... mostly....

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