Affordable homes policy is there for a good reason

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The need for more affordable housing is well-established and Portsmouth City Council’s rules on this matter are quite clear.

A third of new housing must be allocated as affordable – no matter who the developer is, or what the circumstances are.

It is therefore reassuring to see that Harry Redknapp has been told to go back to the drawing board and take another look at his plans for the property he owns in Southsea’s South Parade.

When he was eventually granted permission to develop the former Savoy Buildings into 92 apartments, he knew it was on the condition that a total of 28 properties would be designated as affordable housing.

The economic climate might have changed considerably. But the city council has proved it is in no mood to quibble over this matter.

By turning down Mr Redknapp’s application to do away with the part of the deal which stated he would need to provide ‘cheap’ housing to be sold on to a social housing firm, it is sticking to its guns.

The council has a duty to provide housing for all those who need it and they must be clear on that at all times.

Relenting in this instance would only have run the risk of paving the way for more developers to ask for the same treatment – and then where would we be?

The developers would still be making a tidy profit but the city would have lost its opportunity to provide good-quality housing for those most in need.

Of course, there are those who will find themselves sympathising with Mr Redknapp. He is a shrewd businessman and is just trying to make the most of his investment.

It is also true to say that none of us relishes the sight of empty buildings making our treasured seafront look an unsightly, unloved mess.

But we still believe that the council made the right decision here.

We sincerely hope that Mr Redknapp takes the decision and adapts his plans. We also hope he’s able to develop the site swiftly.

And we must all be thankful that the same rules apply to all.