Housing developers are not going to be happy
City councillors today voted for a significant increase in transparency regarding controversial housing developments. The vote follows a series of Bristol Cable investigations and a mounting campaign led by community union ACORN in response to housing crisis, most recently regarding the Chocolate Factory development in Easton.
The motion put forward by the Green Party proposed that Viability Reports (the mechanism by which developers regularly avoid affordable housing obligations) should be made public if developers claim they cannot meet council targets of 30-40% affordable housing in developments over 15 units. At current the public is routinely denied access to the confidential documents in which developers argue their profits are not substantial enough to include discounted housing.
The vote follows the lead of Islington, Greenwich and Lambeth councils who have introduced similar policies in following pressure to respond to the housing crisis and the consistent failure of developers to deliver affordable housing.
Presenting the motion, Green Party councillor for Southville Stephen Clarke said “The Greens propose we shine a very bright light on the [development] process” in order to have better scrutiny on the issue.
Cabinet member for homes and Labour councillor Paul Smith seconded the motion, saying that the current planning arrangement places the council in a “gladiatorial contest with developers, where developers have a broad sword, and we [the council] have a teaspoon”.
The motion will now have to be given force by the Mayor and council officers.