A report to next week’s Cabinet: “More than a roof: Bristol’s Housing Strategy”, paints a stark picture of a changing political and economic landscape, a growing population and demand, all the while confronted by an increasingly short supply.
There are currently 194,653 properties in Bristol, 15% of which are council owned, 6% Housing Association, 55% owner-occupied and 24% privately rented. The number of people living in the city is set to rise 9% to 442,500 by 2022.
The minimum target for new homes to be delivered under the local plan has been set at 26,400 but under existing trends this is unlikely to keep pace with the rising requirement for dwellings, particularly single person households, with 10,000 applicants presently on the Bristol Housing Register for social housing.
Now, Conservative Mayoral candidate Charles Lucas is arguing this crisis should have been given greater prominence under the Mayor’s tenure.
In contrast, Cllr Lucas is promising to make dealing with this failure one of his main priorities if elected to run the city next year.
Cllr Lucas said: “It is astonishing that this crisis was not a major campaign issue during the last Mayoral election in 2012.
“I can think of few more important necessities in life than having a secure roof over one’s head and, as a result of its demoted status, Mayor Ferguson has been playing catch up ever since.
“This latest report is welcome but still strikes me as too little, too late. I would have given the problem special, priority status if in charge at City Hall. For example, by allocating it a dedicated Cabinet post – with responsibilities that cut across Council directorates – a housing tsar if you will.
“It is clear that a belated commitment to build 2500 homes by 2018 is nowhere near enough.
“I believe we must utilise all means at the authority’s disposal to provide different types of housing, including embracing modern pre-fabricated designs, varying densities, new partnerships and delivery models, and converting more vacant city centre office space for purpose-built flats.
“The provision of all forms of housing tenure represents one of the most formidable challenges of our times. My fear is that the new housing strategy lacks the dynamism needed to make a significant difference.”