Plans have been submitted to turn former council offices in Hereford into 77 flats.
The application comes from social housing landlord Herefordshire Housing, who are looking to demolish a section of the Bath Street offices as part of the development.
But the current plans only allow for 28 social housing flats, with the other 49 to be sold on the open market.
Although this represents a greater proportion of social to privately-owned housing than many recent developments in Hereford, it is still not enough to meet demand.
Over the past few years Herefordshire has consistently failed to achieve the level of affordable properties it needs.
Herefordshire Council data from September 2015 states that 181 affordable homes are needed every year between 2012–2017.
Yet just 39 units of low-cost housing were built in the first half of the 2014/15 financial year. In the first half of 2015/16 only 23 homes had been built. This isn’t good enough.
No doubt Herefordshire Housing is constrained by a lack of money and will need to sell properties on the open market to finance the building of other social housing projects.
The stalled-Conservative policy of extending the right-to-buy to housing association tenants will only exacerbate an already serious crisis.
What is needed is for planning applications to be refused if a development primarily consists of ‘unaffordable’ housing (the 110 new Bishop Fields houses on Hampton Dene Road are marketed at £297,950 to £379,950. These clearly aren’t for your average working class Herefordian).
We need affordable socially-owned flats and houses that will meet local need. Housing association homes are more than a quarter cheaper than private rentals in Herefordshire.
Just as importantly, housing associations need to be brought back under the control of a properly democratic council to allow for greater transparency and public input.
With almost 1,000 people waiting for a housing association property in the county, something has to be done.