We all want to live in a home built to decent standards. In Crawley we are adopting the national standards which include things like minimum room sizes, standards for energy insulation and gardens or amenity space. And the Labour administration at the Town Hall is determined to supply decent housing at decent rents for the people on our waiting lists. We are committed to building 1000 affordable homes over the next four years and we are on track to do just that. These will be homes for people to rent, at rents that people are more able to afford. And, of course, they will be built to decent standards in accordance with our own planning policies.
And we welcome private developments, so that we continue to have a good mix of privately owned homes, privately rented homes and Council owned rented homes. This mix has formed part of the social ‘contract’ that has existed since the new town was first built and has ensured that there is something for everyone; and it is a model that has worked well.
But changes by the Tory government known as ‘Permitted Development Rights’ have broken this model as we see offices being converted to flats across the Town without planning permission. These conversions are on offices that don’t even have to be empty, they are not required to comply with space standards, and they do not have to include allocations with affordable rents. So they take away sites that are needed for jobs for our people, to deliver, in some cases, sub-standard flats at rents that many people won’t be able to afford. This policy appears to be designed to allow the building owners to maximise their profits without taking any recognition of the needs of our people, our businesses or our Town.
We have asked Crawley MP Henry Smith to support us in our campaign to stop this unwanted behaviour in our Town. He has agreed to support our attempts to stop it in Manor Royal, a policy supported by all of the Town’s business organisations, but he otherwise is “not opposed to the Government’s policy on Permitted Development Rights”.
Crawley’s Labour run council is working for Crawley residents, Crawley businesses and for Crawley – I really wonder if our MP is a spokesperson for Crawley in Parliament or the exact opposite!
Cllr Peter Smith -; Labour Ifield and Ifield West
Cabinet member for Planning and Economic Development