Families face ‘housing timebomb’ across city

Cottam Hall masterplan review public consultation at Cottam  Community Centre
Cottam Hall masterplan review public consultation at Cottam Community Centre
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Families across Preston are facing a ‘housing timebomb’ with less than one fifth of the new homes the city needs being built every year, a new report has warned.

‘Home Truths: North West 2012’ said 400 new households were formed in Preston last year - as people moved out from their parents’ homes or shared properties - but only 69 new homes were built.

The National Housing Federation, an organisation which represents 1,200 social housing associations in England, said this shortage was putting the rising cost of privately renting or owning a home out of reach of thousands of families.

It urged the Government and local authorities to hand over disused brownfield public land to allow housing associations to build more homes.

And in Preston it identified land the size of 664 football pitches, which it believes could be used to build enough homes to house 42,600 people.

Daniel Klemm, the federation’s North West lead manager, said: “The lack of affordable housing is a tragedy for families across Preston, who are helplessly watching as the cost of renting or buying a home spirals out of reach.

“We know that various public bodies currently own disused land, such as derelict hospitals, which could and should be used to build more homes.

“At the same time unemployment in Preston has risen over the past five years.

“Building new homes and renovating existing ones is the quickest and most effective way to boost a local economy.”

He said developments such as Cottam Hall, near Preston, where outline planning consent has been secured for 1,100 new homes, one third of which will be affordable, would help tackle the problem.

The group’s campaign Yes to Homes also aims to encourage more people to speak up in support of more new homes.

Mr Klemm said: “People get concerned about developments near their homes, but I think what people need to remember sometimes is do they want a house for their sons and daughters to live in and their grandchildren to bring up families in?

“There can be very good reasons why developments aren’t pursued, but what we’re saying is we need a more radical approach to development.”

Preston Council said it was looking at the feasibility of developing its brownfield sites, including the old council depot in St Paul’s Road, Deepdale, to provide more affordable housing.

A spokesman said: “The council is committed to providing affordable housing, working with social landlords and other partners to improve affordable housing in Preston.

“We are actively looking at using our own land and assets for potential future development of affordable homes.”