Housing minister calls on council to create more affordable housing

Sutton Guardian: Housing minister Kris Hopkins (left) with prospective parliamentary candidate Paul Scully Housing minister Kris Hopkins (left) with prospective parliamentary candidate Paul Scully

A senior Government figure has called on Sutton Council to do more to encourage affordable housing development in the area.

During a visit to Sutton with prospective Conservative candidate for the area Paul Scully on Tuesday, housing minister Kris Hopkins said Sutton Council needs to make sure housing reflects people's needs or voters will make their feelings known at the upcoming council elections.

During his visit, Mr Hopkins, MP for Keighley in Yorkshire, spoke to landlords, developers and estate agents about the borough's housing needs. They told him good schools, fast transport links to London and relatively low house prices have fuelled an influx of people moving to Sutton but they said Sutton Council's decision to challenge an ruling to allow office space to be converted into flats with minimal red tape is holding development back.

Although the council has given planning permission to several large new developments of flats in the town centre, they do not meet Government affordable housing targets meaning many of the flats will not be in the price range of first-time buyers.

Mr Hopkins said: "It's not for me to be prescriptive but the council needs to make sure it reflects the demands of the people. If the community isn't content, it needs to be vocal and then there are the elections coming up in the near future.

"Every council has had to make cuts. For every conversion [from office into housing] we pay a new homes bonus and by resisting that the council is losing out.

"If services are being cut they are missing a trick."

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