Can we promote social housing in Henley?

Dear Editor,

In a recent survey conducted by Henley Residents Group, the issue of providing ‘affordable housing’ was a high priority.

But this is a challenge – the ‘affordable housing’ being built on housing sites in the Joint Henley and Harpsden Neighbourhood Plan, are ‘affordable’ in name only.

Further, market rents across South Oxfordshire are high compared with England. The median market rent in England (1 April 2017 – 31 March 2018) is £6752 per annum (£562 per month), compared with Henley’s £1,350 per month, Cholsey’s £1,024 and Thame’s £975.

But, the ‘affordable houses/apartments’, are too expensive to purchase, even on the shared ownership scheme meant to get people on the ownership ladder. A 20% discount on a £480,000 two-bedroom apartment requires a £200,000 mortgage on a 50% shared ownership, outside the reach of many.

How can this be resolved? Henley Residents Group are working tirelessly to form a Community Land Trust, where either the Town Council or local residents set up the Trust. Once established, the Trust would purchase land at a reasonable price, build at cost, and then rent lower than the present ‘affordable rents’. All properties built would remain rental in perpetuity.

We need to build social housing that ordinary people can afford to buy or rent in order to help address the shortage of housing which is forcing young people away from Henley.

HRG strategy to promote this includes making sure that the supporting infrastructure is put in place at the same time.

The government has announced a £3 billion loan fund open to Community Land Trusts.

This is the way forward for Henley.

Yours sincerely

Paula Isaac

Prospective HRG Candidate for Henley Town Council


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