Thousands sign petition on Sheffield affordable homes

More than 2,500 people have signed a petition calling for a spotlight on developers who try to avoid building affordable homes.

Tuesday, 25th September 2018, 8:50 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th September 2018, 8:57 am
Thousands of people have signed a petition calling on developers to provide affordable homes

Michael Miller, a Nether Edge resident, says developers are using a loophole of 'commercial secrecy' to dodge commitments to provide affordable housing.

Presenting a 2,569-name petition to Sheffield Council's Cabinet, he said: 'Our petition requests that, in order to increase the supply of affordable housing being built in Sheffield, developers should be forced to make their viability assessments public if they claim they cannot meet council targets of affordable housing in new developments.

'Why is this important? Current planning law states that if a developer will make less than 20 percent profit on a new development, they can ignore a council's regulations about building affordable and social housing.

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'Leaked documents from several developers have shown that the maths they use to work out their profit margins are purposefully misleading, allowing them to claim they will make less than 20 percent profit on a development by undervaluing the prices of the houses they will sell and over-costing the labour.

'To combat this lslington, Greenwich, Lambeth and Bristol councils have introduced a policy that forces developers' viability assessments to be made public.

'By bringing these dodgy maths into the public domain, councils, campaigning groups and individuals will be able to hold developers to account.'

Sheffield Green Party Councillor Douglas Johnson says there is a growing crisis due to the lack of affordable housing. 'Property developers make far more profit on luxury flats or executive homes, far too often we see developers doing nothing to make housing affordable.

'Even worse is where developers apply to lift planning conditions that require a contribution to affordable housing. I welcome Mr Miller's petition to highlight the issue of developers playing the system. Local authorities need more power to force developers to contribute to this growing problem.'

Coun Jack Scott, Cabinet Member for Development, said he would look at making the information public.

'This petition is indicative of the feeling around the housing crisis and affordable homes. I see a lot of merit in making this information public. It would be open and transparent and positive for everybody. It needs to be fair to developers but affordability assessments have to come first.'