Green Party Co-leader and Green MEP to visit Exeter to discuss city’s housing needs

27 March 2018

The Green Party in Exeter will welcome their co-leader, Jonathan Bartley, and South West MEP, Molly Scott Cato, to the city on Wednesday to discuss the city’s housing problems and look at solutions from other parts of the UK and Europe.

Greens say that Exeter faces a severe shortage of truly affordable housing, with young people in particular having difficulties in finding a suitable home. They also point to inappropriate developments, with many students complaining they are unable to afford the rents in the luxury student flats being built by speculative developers in the city centre.

Despite huge housing developments on green field sites both within and just outside the city’s boundaries rents in the city remain high and many struggle to meet housing costs. Greens say the solutions lie in more social and council housing and community-led models.

Diana Moore, who is standing in May’s local elections to become a councillor in St David’s, a ward with a high proportion of luxury student flat developments, said:

“Exeter’s housing policies are locked into a model where developers build for excessive profit, not to accommodate people’s need for genuinely affordable housing. Luxury student flats are monopolising the city centre and our valuable greenspaces are being infilled by developers for private profit.

“Key city centre sites should be allocated for social, council and community built housing, not for luxury flats that students tell me they cannot afford. This is why Greens say that Plan B for the bus station site must include genuinely affordable housing.

Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, said:

“We have to stop treating housing like a commodity and instead see it as a vital warm, safe and secure place we can call home. Greens would use money removed from tax breaks given to buy-to-let investors to create deposits for new council housing. We would also lift the cap, allowing local authorities to borrow against those deposits.

“Community led housing is also an excellent way to enable groups of people to work together to create appropriate and affordable homes and I look forward to visiting one such initiative on my visit to Devon. Rather than lining developers’ pockets, I am sure this approach has huge potential to address Exeter’s housing needs.”

Molly Scott Cato MEP released a report earlier this year which looks at some of the solutions used to address housing problems in other EU countries [1]. She said:

“We need a policy that stabilises prices and invests in social housing; one that protects renters and controls their rents, and helps small and community-led builders provide high quality and affordable homes that local communities will support.

“We should be inspired by our European neighbours. For example, we could learn from experiences of rent controls in Spain, Italy and Germany and we could support community-led housing and planning approaches, learning from the Netherlands.

“Examples from Europe show that radical but realistic approaches can fix our broken housing market.”

The Green Party in Exeter say that addressing the city’s housing needs is a priority and will be a key feature in their ‘plan for the city’ due to be launched next week ahead of the City Council elections in May. Last year Exeter Young Greens, the youth wing of the Green Party, launched a ‘Renters Charter’ calling for tough planning conditions on developers to ensure new developments are affordable; a renter’s union to provide advice on legal issues in renting and a ‘Housing First’ strategy, offering vulnerable young people permanent accommodation before they have conquered problems such as alcohol abuse, drug addiction and mental illness [2].

[1] http://mollymep.org.uk/2018/02/15/britains-broken-housing-market/

[2] https://exeter.greenparty.org.uk/news/2017/03/16/greens-to-launch-new-renters%E2%80%99-charter-to-support-%E2%80%98generation-rent%E2%80%99/