Notes on the Conservative Association Policy Discussion event of 7th April 2016
While the discussion was centred on the subject suggested but the Conservative Policy Forum (CPF) of Housing all subjects were open to the floor.
15 people in attendance including Chairman Philip Milton and Special Guest Peter Heaton-Jones MP.
· Philip Milton opens the discussion with an overview of the CPF document. (PM)
· Rodney Cann talked about the flooding risks of over development and recent studies on Barnstaple itself using the EAs own modelling.
· 2300 people on the Council Housing lists with approximately 60 families with desperate need. (RC)
· North Devon cannot show a five year land supply despite permission being given because of ‘Land Banking’. Peter Heaton-Jones added that we would have ‘Local Plan’ being submitted soon which would help guard against speculative planning applications such as Mannings Pit but we still need to be able to address the five year land supply. (RC and PHJ)
· Michael Green that it might be a good thing if house prices were to go down and could the Government do this? House price increases above the general level of inflation are bad for our community. This was leading to a massive shift of wealth to the older home owning generation. Savings that are pumped into housing are unproductive to the rest of the economy. Could there be a limit on roll over planning applications to reduce land banking? Could the Government charge business rates on land that had planning permission but had continually rolled over and not developed i.e. banked. (MG)
· General feeling that the private sector couldn’t build everything.
· Several participants felt that it would be a serious negative impact on the economy if house prices did fall.
· How far away are we from a 100 year mortgage?
· Stamp Duty on second homes a good thing.
· Cost of new housing dramatically increased because of taxes and regulations on developers. (RC)
· The Link Road funding was discussed and the time that it would take to get into place. (PHJ)
· Right to Buy was discussed as a good principle but no particular opinion was developed on how successful it has been or will be.
· Multiple members discussed the ability of North Devon to accommodate Syrian refugees and what the Council would have to do to support them. The group in general were happy with the Governments position and if anything would be happy for the country to take on more responsibilities. It was generally thought that NDDC should look to be proactive in offering to resettle refugees and shouldn’t be waiting for the Government to make a decision on what we ‘have’ to take.
· The EU – while many in the group felt that it wasn’t right for the Government to spend tax payers’ money promoting its pro-remain opinion PHJ pointed out that it is perfectly reasonable for the Government to advertise and explain its position. It did so during the Scottish Referendum and does so regularly to promote policy changes like Right to Buy and the Higher Living Wage.
· A great deal of EU in/out discussion was had. An arbitrary poll was conducted resulting in 5 people choosing to Remain, 4 people wishing to Leave with one abstention.