The housing shortage is nothing new, and neither, sadly, are the stories of young people being priced out of home ownership or even rental due to price.
Despite this, the protests that accompany every large-scale new development show the difficulty of the situation. We need – whether through constructing new ones or converting existing buildings – to increase the supply, and so stop the inexorable price rises.
London may well be famously full of property that the average citizen can’t afford, but even in our area there are plenty of homes well out of reach of most of us.
That’s why it’s important to make sure that when houses and flats are built, they are not just there for the rich, but for all.
And, in turn, that is why there is planning guidance that suggests a proportion of new homes should be affordable housing. Councils no longer have the money to build homes, but as the planning body they can control what is built.
So we are disappointed to learn of the stand-off between Portsmouth City Council and Bouygues over the so-called Shard on The Hard. Bouygues says it isn’t viable with 30 per cent affordable homes; the council replies that it certainly would be. And Bouygues’ stance is undermined by its refusal to contribute to other schemes elsewhere.
We hope the council stands its ground.
This building would be a true landmark for the city, and would – as Bouygues correctly points out – help to regenerate what is currently an eyesore. However, the beneficial knock-on, secondary effects of a project do not excuse a developer from meeting its social responsibility, purely because it is wants to chase more profits.
Bouygues is worried about the difficulty in keeping affordable housing occupants and others separate. We say: get new architects. And we would also point out that those who live in affordable housing are not pariahs. They are not unsafe to walk past. We want to see the Shard built, but for a cross-section of people of Portsmouth, not just those fortunate enough to be able to afford the latest fashionable harbour-view penthouse.
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