Local builders Ferndale Developers Ltd were granted permission in 2012 to build three affordable homes at Pensilva in St Ive parish, east Cornwall. They duly appeared on the market in 2014, priced at £125,000 for a three bed semi-detached house, a lot cheaper than than the £145,000 mean price for a lower quartile (the cheapest quarter) of open market housing in Cornwall.
Originally, the houses were limited to people with a local connection. In 2013 there were 86 such households registered with Cornwall’s Home Choice scheme, those with a local connection to St Ive parish. Thirty one of those were in bands A-D and thus defined as in need of housing. So a large potential demand then. Or not. As none of these households came forward to buy the three properties.
By February 2015 eligibility had been widened to the whole of Cornwall as Ferndale began to get worried about its unsold houses. November came and passed and there were still no takers. A little surprising when the Council constantly tell us 27-28,000 households are looking desperately for housing in Cornwall. So what’s going on? Are there really no families in need after all?
Hardly. The clue lies in the fact that over a half (54%) of households in Cornwall have an income too low to afford an average private sector rent. This means they are extremely unlikely to be able to afford the £20,000-£25,000 deposit that was being demanded by mortgage providers for these properties, even with Help to Buy.
It seems that even relatively ‘cheap’ houses sometimes can’t sell, especially when they’re in out of town places like Pensilva. What’s the moral of this little tale? People need decent, social rented housing, not houses to buy. So what does the Government do? It slashes the numbers of social rented houses available, forces Housing Associations to sell off what social housing they still have and instead subsidises developers to build ‘starter homes’ of up to £250,000 that nobody in Cornwall can afford. Are the madmen truly in charge of the asylum?
Ferndale is now asking the council for permission to sell the three houses on the open market.[PA15/10822] Second home anyone?