Councillors face dilemma of homes versus open space

There are more than 5,000 people on North Tyneside Council’s (NTC) waiting list for a house in the borough.

These are older people wanting to downsize, growing families needing more space, single adults including where family relationships have broken down and young couples wanting to set up a home and start their own family.

These are residents from all parts of the borough who do not have enough capital to afford to change or a down payment or cannot pay exorbitant private

That’s why NTC has pledged to build 3,000 affordable homes (to rent or share buy) in the next 10 years. This is particularly important now that private house builders do not necessarily have to make a contribution towards affordable homes.

At the same time the Coalition Government has accused councils of sitting on so-called land banks and threatened that if any land belonging to the housing department of a council is not used or sold to a private developer then the Government will step in and authorise private house builders to use it, without the consent of the council.

Earlier this year grants were made available to councils to build houses on Housing Department land only.

You only have to look around the borough to see that NTC’s housing department does not have even a small land bank. Nevertheless so urgent is the need that a collection of 17 parcels of land spread throughout the borough were gathered together, some only big enough for one house, others for four to six with a maximum of 20 in one spot and a start has been made on this year’s quota.

The dilemma for Labour councillors and those who live next to these pieces of land is that we all know people who desperately need houses but also do not want to lose the green open spaces on former council house estates where young children have played for decades.

The Coalition Government specialises in double standards, one which allows the growing private sector to build up massive land banks – check out who owns the former Coal Board land in the borough – but forces councils to build affordable homes on pocket handkerchiefs of land so that the public sector has no silver left.

Coun Muriel Green

Weetslade Ward