Deputy Paul Luxon, Tony Rowbotham of Montagu Evans, Professor
Christine Whitehead OBE and Ogier's Claire Smith formed the
panel for yesterday's debate on ways to revive the property
market in Guernsey. Professor Whitehead, economics professor
at the London School of Economics and former Director of the
University of Cambridge Centre for Housing & Planning Research,
gave the keynote speech setting out her thoughts on Guernsey's
housing waiting lists, housing targets and the proposals in the
Island Development Plan to secure affordable housing on private
housing development sites via planning covenants.
Professor Whitehead noted that Guernsey has the lowest housing
needs waiting list of any mainland British local authority, but
cautioned against relying solely on the Guernsey Housing
Association or any one tool, to meet the future housing needs of
the Island, advocating instead 'a basket of
measures'. This approach she suggested, should include
detailed consideration of the advantages and disadvantages in the
Guernsey context of Help to Buy, Right to Buy, 'Bank of
Guernsey' mortgage guarantees and other first time buyer
Deputy Luxon cautioned against potential 'unforeseen
consequences' of continuing to apply housing policies conceived
in a rising market now that Guernsey's housing market is
depressed and called on Treasury & Resources to commit to
considering measures to revive the property market in
Guernsey. Deputy Gavin St Pier responded from the audience
confirming that a number of these measures are already being
considered by Treasury & Resources.
Claire Smith expressed concerns that draft Island Development
Plan Policy GP11 which proposes compulsory land transfers of
between 20% – 30% for residential development sites as small
as 5 dwellings may be too onerous in a depressed housing market and
would need to be applied flexibly in order for it to work. In
Claire's view, the use of planning covenants as currently
envisaged under the draft Island Development Plan may well prove
problematic for the future in circumstances where in Guernsey there
is no clear legal guidance on viability for affordable development,
which will lead to lengthy legal negotiations and delays in
securing planning permissions.
Tony Rowbotham observed that the proposed social housing land
transfers will only benefit the Guernsey Housing Association
'one track' Partial Ownership approach which has no ability
to help the market and staircase into whole ownership, by being
capped at 80%.
The event was very well attended and the breadth of issues
covered by the panel and extensive questions raised by the
audience, highlights that there is no one simple solution to this
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