He won the battle, but the war against Bournemouth’s flat boom may be futile according to a Queen’s Park resident who prevented the flattening of a period house for apartments last night.
“I didn’t think for a minute I’d get anywhere”, said Terry Leonard, of 109 Lowther Road, who presented a 60-strong petition to Bournemouth Council’s Planning Board that helped stop no.103’s demolition, three doors down. “The Conservatives came in on the plank that they wanted to do something for family houses but the council find it very difficult to refuse housing applications.”
The developer at no.103 still has planning permission to build five, one and two bedroom flats within the Victorian townhouse.
Just four days ago more affordable and family-friendly homes were promised in a draft local housing strategy for 2008 to 2011 presented in the council’s Sustainable Environment Overview Panel.
During the panel meeting, the head of housing landlord services Gary Josey admitted “we’re not exactly getting a mixed community” with 90 per cent of new developments in Bournemouth being flats. Peter Hoyle, housing strategy and enabling manager also said that “95 per cent of them are not making any contribution to affordable housing”.
Mr Hoyle said the onset of a new strategy doesn’t mean the end of the flat boom because the Government dictates that the South West has to meet an annual quota of new dwellings: “The fact of the matter is, it’s not our position to turn down houses on the basis that they’re not the type we want”.
Yet operations director of Harbourview Developments Ltd Liam Pollard suggests the council might have another motive. “Of course the local authority benefits from 14 times the council tax where 14 flats are concerned,” pointed out the building contractor behind another Queen’s Park development at 13 to 15 Milton Road.
In many cases, home owners in Bournemouth have greatly benefitted from flat building, believes Gary Spicer, director of Lime Properties Ltd. The Queen’s Park-based developer explains: “If the owner of the house realises it’s only worth £450,000, he can sell it to a developer for £650,000.”
· Permission for two other blocks of flats at 15 and 17 Lowther Road was refused at the last Planning Board meeting on October 15.
· Since October 1, seven applications have been refused for flat developments involving the demolition of a house in Queen’s Park, while three were granted approval.
· As well as providing more affordable housing, the draft housing strategy will aim to fill empty homes for which there will be a new empty property officer. It will go to cabinet for consideration on February 20, 2008 and be published the following April.
· Lorraine Mealings, housing strategy officer in charge of the draft, said it would include a detailed profile of the Bournemouth Housing market to help tailor supply to demand.
· Cllr Ron Whittaker reported in the Sustainable Environment Overview Panel that there are over 5,000 second homes in Bournemouth, lived in on a part-time basis.