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Combined Authority dilemma over ‘Willy Wonka golden ticket’ £100k homes

Cllr Lorna Dupre described £100k homes as a ‘Willy Wonka golden ticket’ for the few

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The day Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CAPCA) scrapped the contentious £100,000 homes scheme of former Mayor James Palmer, they also tore up the waiting list. And that has created fresh problems for CAPCA

One of the eight homes at Fordham near Newmarket – the first £100,000 homes built under the regime of former Mayor Palmer – came up for resale last October and CAPCA officers passed it to East Cambridgeshire District Council (ECDC) to market and sell.

East Cambs is the only council to have adopted a £100,000 homes policy once it was ditched by Mayor Dr Nik Johnson.

But today’s environment and sustainable communities committee of the Combined Authority, was told that once the scheme was abandoned, the waiting list was also shredded.

Steve Cox, interim executive director of place and community, explained that the eight leasehold homes at Fordham were delivered and sales were administered by the former community homes team.

Mayor Palmer met with leading housebuilder Hill at the Rayners Green site, a development of 97 homes in a joint venture partnership between Hill Group and Scotsdales Garden Centre, which will include £100K Homes as part of the housing mix.

In 2020 Mayor James Palmer met with  housebuilder Hill at the Rayners Green site, a development of 97 homes in a joint venture partnership between Hill Group and Scotsdales Garden Centre, which will include £100K Homes as part of the housing mix.

“The policy then closed on 29 September 2021, but no action was taken to discharge the Combined Authority’s responsibilities for allocating new purchasers for the homes,” he said.

“The Combined Authority was approached by a homeowner who wanted to sell their home and the Combined Authority was unable to identify a purchaser because the £100k homes initiative ended in 2021 and no waiting list is maintained.

“The Combined Authority no longer maintains a register of interested purchasers, so it is not currently able to nominate eligible purchasers,” he said.

In this instance therefore arrangements were made under delegated authority for ECDC to allocate a purchaser.

A far cry from the days when Mayor Palmer said of the hundreds wanting a £100k home at Fordham that147 of the applicants already live or work in Fordham, and so were eligible to purchase one of the eight 100K homes currently available.

“This means that demand for £100k homes in Fordham is so high they could have been filled nearly 20 times over,” he pointed out.

He believed that £100k homes would make ownership possible for many more people, helping to ‘level up’ the prosperity of the region.

The plan was for the homes to be sold at a discount rate to their open market value to achieve a price tag of £100,000. The discount is then passed onto future buyers, helping more people onto the property ladder.

“With cross-party local and national political support, we are working with local housing developers to deliver £100,000 homes, offering low interest loan funding and help navigating planning processes,” said Mayor Palmer.

£100K Homes are part of Mayor Palmer’s response to the housing crisis which is seeing many people locked out of the property market and forced to pay expensive private rents or are stuck living at home with parents to save costs.

Inside one of the £100K Homes at Fordham which were part of Mayor Palmer’s response to the housing crisis. He saw it as a response those locked out of the property market “and forced to pay expensive private rents or are stuck living at home with parents to save costs”.

But the scheme was fraught with difficulties, and Labour campaigned against them during the mayoral election. The party felt it tipped the balance in favour of only a handful whereas the need for affordable or social home needed to be a priority.

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Critics argued that the current homes in the scheme had required loans of £1million each.

This tying up of capital, they claimed, was linked to the Government’s assessment that the wider Combined Authority housing programme had made “insufficient delivery progress and that the value for money being achieved is below our expectations”.

Last October, however, CAPCA was suddenly presented with an issue when one of the early buyers wanted to sell and it had been left with no mechanisms to handle the re-sale.

Officers decided to hand it to East Cambs Council to resolve, who then offered “an opportunity to purchase a one-bedroom affordable home in Fordham for £117,000” last October.

The offer was made available only “to residents who meet the eligibility criteria”.

A press release claimed that “the property is one of a number set aside by East Cambridgeshire District Council to help local residents struggling to get on the housing ladder” but in fact it was being sold on behalf of the Combined Authority.

Mr Cox offered the Combined Authority two options today, either to make permanent an arrangement with East Cambs to handle all future re-sales, or to consider changing the status of each home “to a more conventional type of affordable housing unit at each next available lease transfer opportunity”.

He said that if committee members opted for the second option then a fresh report would be brought back to determine how this could be achieved.

Despite encouragement from one member to pass the homes to ECDC, the committee opted to invite Mr Cox to bring fresh proposals back to a future meeting.

Cllr Lorna Dupre, Lib Dem leader on East Cambs Council, criticized the lack of options presented to the committee and felt more detail needed to be shared about risks and advantages of various possibilities.

She also criticized the £100k scheme, describing it a “Willy Wonka golden ticket” for a small number.

Cllr Dupre said the scale of the housing was “ghastly” and we needed to recognize how much that is an issue for people, particularly young people.

Of the £100k she felt if someone had built 2 million of them, she might have seen the benefits but that hadn’t happened.

“Lovely for those with golden tickets but not by means a solution to the overall housing crisis,” she said.

Cllr Martin Goodearl of Littleport was happy for East Cambs to take on the eight homes at Fordham, and said it was essential to protect the local connection – and discount – “because we promised people of Fordham, they would have these houses in perpetuity”.

 

Cllr Lorna Dupre described £100k homes as a ‘Willy Wonka golden ticket’ for the few

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