Whatever the process, we need homes

IN SOME respects, it was a simple question from a Guernsey Press reader in these pages last week. Why is there a housing shortage – others would say crisis – when so many sites have been earmarked for building? The fact-packed response from Development and Planning, however, indicated there is no easily understood answer.

Perhaps the most revealing element was this – ‘Overall, since… 2016 there have been 440 units completed or the equivalent of c.110 units a year, in line with the States Strategic Housing Indicator.’

In short, the targets that the States set for itself, based on earlier studies and more recently informed by consultants KPMG in 2018, have been hit. If so, that is perplexing because the indicator is an important guide to the right balance between housing demand and supply.

So either there isn’t a housing crisis in the island, which seems unlikely, or government has been hopelessly wrong-footed and releasing land all over the place for new homes while chasing the wrong target.

The earlier aim was 300, which was rarely achieved, and has been revised down to rather less than half that – with islanders still complaining they cannot find affordable property.

Meanwhile, the housing indicator itself is to be revised because of Covid, more islanders inconveniently (but wholly predictably) getting older, and changes to migration triggered by Brexit and the pandemic. That review, however, will be of scant comfort to those wanting a place of their own.

Given the bureaucratic processes required, any change to the indicator – no timetable provided – will have to be approved by the States and then Island Development Plan policies for housing development re-evaluated ‘to ensure that they continue to be able to support delivery of an appropriate supply of housing’.

Perhaps it’s not meant this way, but that implies government tells islanders how many new homes they need and how well that policy has worked.

Step back from ‘due process’ and all the evidence points to there being too few affordable homes to meet demand – but Planning’s not pulling out the stops to resolve the crisis.

Most Read

Top Stories

More From The Guernsey Press

UK & International News