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The sky’s the limit to create “town within a city”

Friday, 16 February 2024 06:36

By Alison Stephenson, local democracy reporter

The Civic Centre, Plymouth which is being developed for housing and business. (image courtesy: Alison Stephenson)

More high rise homes will fulfil council's ambition in Plymouth

More high rise homes may be answer so Plymouth can deliver the city council’s ambition to have  “a town within a city.”

The council wants to create a strong community feel in the city centre with mixed housing for all ages close to amenities.

Currently it only has a fraction of the city centre housing that Manchester and many other English cities have, yet their footprints, if not their populations, are of a similar size. Building upwards could be the answer.

Cabinet member for housing Cllr Chris Penberthy (Lab, St Peter and the Waterfront) said that along with the housing team he had spoken with Homes England, a public body concerned with affordable housing, about their ambitions for the city centre.

He said evidence from other cities shows that if things are sorted “around the edges” like transport and public spaces such as Armada Way, then the private sector becomes interested in investing.

The council’s growth and infrastructure overview and scrutiny committee was told that centrally located homes would be key when the local plan, the blueprint for development, was reviewed.

Cllr Penberthy said some plots of land in the city centre and on the fringes with planning permission had not come to fruition, including Mayflower House Citadel,  Mayflower Road East,  Colin Campbell Court, and areas east of Sutton Harbour.

He said the council would be looking at how they could bring these forward quickly.

Under the council’s ‘Plans for Homes 4’ programme it aims to deliver 5,000 new homes over the next five years, with social rented properties and affordable homes a priority. The plan will be presented to the cabinet next month.

As well as building new homes, the council will look at how it can bring more long-term empty homes – there are currently 800 – back into use and support the private rented sector.

Plan for Homes began in 2014, since which 7,581 new homes have been built, 1,980 are which affordable, 48 council sites have been released to developers and 385 long-term empty homes brought back into use.

Cllr Penberthy said the plan had been a success but there is much more to do to ensure that Plymouth has the homes it needs.

The current housing crisis, due to cost of living crisis, rising rent costs, no-fault eviction notices and landlords leaving the market, meant the number of households in significant need of affordable (Band B and C) homes outstripped supply by 2,575 households last year.

Approaches by households concerned about housing increased by 42 per cent over past three years and is projected to increase by 79 per cent in this financial year.

He added that in the past nine months the council had 173 homeless applications every month on average  and there are 342 households in temporary accommodation and 181 in B&Bs.

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