(This item first appeared in the Brighton Argus on 10th September 2016)
What are we to do about the housing crisis in Brighton? Everyone wants something done but nobody wants to be impacted by the solution. Those living in the centre see the urban fringe as the site for development, while those in Mile Oak, Ovingdean and elsewhere think otherwise.
Some argue going tall is the solution, others call for greater density. At Brighton Housing Trust, we have embraced short life housing on sites temporarily derelict, such as our shipping container homes developed with our partners QED Property (see here for examples of such ideas).
There is an increasing consensus that any new homes should not be high priced and all should help to address Brighton’s housing problems. The last thing we need are more top end homes for people cashing in and moving down from London, or worse still, having second homes here.
Some blame the City Council. I certainly don’t. We are fortunate to have an all-party consensus on housing, but the powers, and finances, of the Council are extremely limited.
We need a radical approach by the City Council, but it needs central government imagination and courage. Previously I have made the suggestion that Brighton should be declared a Housing Crisis Zone with the government giving sweeping powers and resources to the Council to built social housing for rent on publicly and privately owned land.
If we had more homes with social rents, we could combat homelessness and affordability, and save a shed-load of money on the ever-increasing housing benefit bill. It seems to me to be a no-brainer!