GOVERNMENT plans to slash the prices of selected new homes by 30% to help locals get on the housing ladder will still prove unaffordable for many New Forest residents, council chiefs have warned.
The government has suggested the idea as part of its First Homes plan, which says cutting the cost will allow lower deposit and mortgage requirements for first-time buyers.
But responding to the public consultation over the plan, New Forest District Council said its pricing levels “may not be genuinely affordable”.
It said the intentions behind the scheme were “laudable”, but cited four key concerns, including that it could squeeze out other initiatives helping first-time buyers which may be better suited to particular areas and was likely to cause “additional and administrative legal burdens”.
The council’s view was signed off by senior cabinet members Cllr Jill Cleary who oversees the housing portfolio, and Cllr Edward Heron, deputy leader and member for planning and infrastructure.
Government housing secretary Robert Jenrick unveiled the First Homes plan in February by pointing out the average price of a newly-built home in England was £314,000.
The scheme on selected homes would be for local people who want to stay in the community where they live or work but are struggling to purchase a dwelling at market prices.
The homes would be prioritised for first-time buyers, serving members and veterans of the Armed Forces, and key workers, such as nurses, police and teachers. The discount would be passed on to future buyers when First Homes are resold.
The government also asked councils whether they supported setting the 30% as a nationwide cap – but NFDC was against that pointing out that even with that reduction homes would not be affordable in the New Forest where median prices were £325,000 in 2018.
NFDC argued local authorities were best placed to set their own caps, as national or regional price caps were “too blunt an instrument” and highlighted local affordability was a “unique relationship” between local incomes and local house prices.
A cap relevant to the circumstances of first-time buyers would be better, it added, and restrictions on buyers being local should be axed if a house fails to find a buyer after six months.
Should there be more homes than needed locally, NFDC said it should be empowered to explore other forms of affordable housing tenure before properties go on the general market, and residents should not be able to move out and rent the property without permission from the council.
NFDC said the veteran’s entitlement – which also applies to partners of those who die in military service – should apply for up to five years after they have exited the forces.