Innovative plans to increase the housing stock in Cornwall and make it more affordable were aired at a meeting hosted by West Cornwall MP Derek Thomas.
More than a dozen people involved in the housing sector – from architects to chartered surveyors and from affordable housing experts to building contractors – attended the brain-storming ‘Housing Solutions’ meeting at Penzance Cricket Club.
Mr Thomas set up the meeting in response to concerns that many people in his constituency are being priced out of a housing market in which demand greatly exceeds supply.
The Government expects 52,000 new homes to be built in Cornwall by 2030 but there are numerous hurdles to overcome to achieve this figure and to ensure that a sufficient number are affordable and within the reach of local buyers.
Mr Thomas said: “I set up the meeting to discuss ways we can ensure that housing is affordable and to find out how we can improve the existing housing stock.
“We also talked about the options available to the many people in Cornwall who are a low priority for social housing but who are in desperate need of a home.”
Among the innovative solutions that were brought up at the meeting were ideas to bring back into use the many homes currently lying empty including flats and maisonettes above high street shops, extending the Rent A Room scheme by increasing the threshold before tax is paid and by encouraging more low-cost, self-build schemes.
At the meeting, there was also a presentation from Sue Coulson, from Rentplus, explaining the new model they have which enables working families to rent and then purchase their new home.
Mr Thomas added: “We had a very stimulating discussion and we will be investigating the ideas further to see if they have a practical application.
“I hope we can make a constructive contribution to what is a very serious issue not just in my constituency but across the whole of Cornwall.”
Picture caption: Front from left: Ian Savage, Rachael Gaunt, Tim Smart, Sue Coulson, Rachel Lambert, Derek Thomas MP, Dilwyn Lloyd; middle row: Darren Willcocks, Peter Hendry; back row: Stan Hall and Craig Little.