New Homes for Somerset? Or not many?

On Monday this week we received a press release from Homes England. Homes England is a public body, sponsored by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. In it there was a promise of 1,000 new homes being built in Somerset, Dorset and Hampshire. The company that had been selected to deliver the new homes is Wyatt Homes a company based in Poole, Dorset.

We wanted to know more, especially how one company was chosen to deliver the homes. The press release read as if the company had been selected by Homes England. Not so their spokesperson told us. “Wyatt Homes weren’t selected ahead of any other housebuilders. Wyatt applied for finance, as any other housebuilder can, under the criteria set out by the Home Building Fund.

We were also curious as to how a share of 1,000 homes was going to be built in Somerset right now. With the phosphates issue still unresolved, most planning applications are on hold. However it turns out that these are homes being built right now, not new homes planned for the future. The Homes England spokesperson told us “We only lend on sites where full planning permission has been obtained and all planning conditions met.

The press release also trumpeted the fact that up to 30% of the new homes would be affordable. Inevitably we wanted to know if this was genuinely affordable, or Affordable Housing. The latter was originally defined as 20% off market rents to rent, or 20% off market rates to buy. Last year that definition was made more vague by the Department for Communities, when the % were removed. We also pointed out that 30% Affordable Housing was the minimum most District Councils in Somerset would permit to grant planning permission. In response the Homes England spokesperson confirmed “This is on average across all the company’s sites and accelerates the supply of new housing in areas with high affordability challenges.” 

We were thinking about coming back to Homes England for clarification on that, until we came to the final answer. This was to the question, how many of the 1,000 homes would be built in Somerset. The answer was just 19! All are on the Brimsmore Estate in Yeovil.

So good as any new homes may be, the big announcement turns out to be not so big after all. At least if you live in Somerset.

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  • Great newspaper! Can I just confirm that you cover ALL Somerset, as haven’t seen much regarding the Wells region?
    I believe there are to be changes to the City Council in the Somerset County restructuring – which interests me since only the historic centre of Wells seems to be covered by the Council – and therefore included in the growing City. I live in South Horrington & discover we & all the circular areas into which the City has been & is expanding are treated as ‘farming communities’ outside the City in St Cuthbert Out Parish. Wonder if this is on The Leveller agenda for a bit of exploration?

  • “Democracy means government by discussion, but it is only effective if you can stop people talking”!

    Surely, we’ve all have learnt all that ‘glitters’ is not GOLD with HMG? I believe former Conservative-leader, Michael Howard, Baron Howard of Lympne CH PC QC, sometime Chairman.

    Homes England is governed by a board that decides what its priorities are. Its members are appointed by the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC)

    Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
    “Board members
    The board members are: Peter Freeman – Chair

    After qualifying as a lawyer, Peter formed the Argent Group of property companies with his brother in 1981. Argent is particularly known for major mixed-use projects like Brindley place in Birmingham, and King’s Cross and Brent Cross Town in London. Peter has also been a non-executive director on several other property companies and a trustee of a number of charities connected with education, combating intolerance, and public performance art”.

    Its ‘sinews’ across ‘local governance’ pace Jenrick he of Tower Hamlets imbroglio! Thank goodness the ‘likes’ the erstwhile ‘campaigner’ par excellence, of Churchill & Langford Residents Association. We experience in Somerset a ‘fundamental’ modus operandi ‘reform’ in Local Governance, pace the ‘balkanized’ Somerset Unitary Authority ‘conceived’ during the Pandemic ‘lock-down’.*

    Local authority ‘elections’ bottom-up, pace Parish & County a ‘test’ of our ‘proclaimed-democracy’ MAY 5 2022′!

    *Restoration former, Somerset ‘county’ delineation pre 1974 Reform an ‘inaugural’ agenda-item?

  • Anyway, for the benefit of folk in Dorset and Hampshire, what’s the point of proclaiming “up to” 30% will be affordable? Does it mean “no more than” 30%? Could be a lot less than that.

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