Scilly ‘Will Die’ Without More Social Housing Says Lord Berkeley

Lord Berkeley in the House of Lords

Lord Berkeley in the House of Lords

The House of Lords has been warned that Scilly’s community “will die” without more social housing.

Lord Berkeley, who is a regular visitor to the islands, made the statement during a Lords debate on the Housing and Planning Bill, which is currently passing through Parliament.

He was speaking in support of an amendment he’s proposed that would exclude Scilly from the proposed right-to-buy scheme for social housing.

Lord Berkeley said the islands lie 25 miles off the coast and have “pretty awful” transport links, meaning essential workers can’t easily commute here.

He said demand for housing is high, but the provision is “virtually zero” and any new homes tend to be for holiday lets or for people with “lots of money who want to go there occasionally and leave it empty for the rest of the year.”

“If there is no essential housing for workers in islands like the Isles of Scilly then the community will die – I think it’s a very serious issue,” said Lord Berkeley.

In response, Baroness Williams from the Department for Communities and Local Government, said she had visited the Scilly and understood the concerns about the loss of social housing here.

But she said housing associations will have the discretion not to sell properties under the new proposals and that will be based on their own local knowledge.

“We want equality of opportunity for social tenants and not denying it just because they live on the Isles of Scilly,” she said.

15 Responses to Scilly ‘Will Die’ Without More Social Housing Says Lord Berkeley

  1. Sam March 14, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    It’s not right that tourists have a misleading impression when they walk around dozens of empty fields all day and think that they’re empty because as locals we all love to see empty fields. We need to get the houses built, and tourism can behave however it wants around that, around the community.

    It’s unfair to prop tourism up based on a lie because sooner or later that lie will unearth itself in ways you can’t foresee, because that’s what happens when you put unmanageable pressure on things, there are pressure points that give way. Now it could be locals vs out of towners/tourists tensions rise, or it could be criminal incidents as a result of cramped living conditions, or it could be an increase in theft and burglary as people try to make ends meet, or it could be that the school puts up a ‘full’ sign, or a large fire makes a lot of people homeless, or people die, because building regs aren’t properly managed by rogue landlords.

    Yes we live in an area of AONB, but that’s not a get out of jail free card and shouldn’t be used as one whenever we talk about housing or developments. Big swathes of land are open for development across all five islands.

    It’s a very simple sum. X people = X houses. If Councillors don’t like that, then reduce the number of people on the islands by imposing stricter guidelines on home ownership, Key Worker regs, and such like.

    • Monsieur Droit March 15, 2016 at 10:15 pm

      No risk of you being just a tad over the top there Kev is there?

  2. Pete March 12, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    There is a business on the islands with living accommodation. The proprietor lives in social housing property and rents out the accommodation in the business. At one time applying for permission to use the accommodation for a holiday let.

    • Sooth March 13, 2016 at 6:43 am

      Pete, there are actually quite a few people doing this. I know of at least half a dozen.

  3. Ian T. March 12, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    Perhaps if there hadn’t been such vehement opposition to developments in the past this situation would not have arisen. Yes, I know the infrastructure can’t cope but you are not in a different position than most places in the west of England. In fact, transport aside, you are possibly better off. Lots of investment, nice new roads, etc…..

    • Lambsy March 12, 2016 at 2:00 pm

      Yes transport, living costs, lower than average income aside we’re no different, oops I forgot the 28 miles of Atlantic ocean and of course all freight & transport being in the hands of a monopoly; so better off? Really? Still your friend with the hybrid car could probably get all around St. Mary’s without the petrol engine starting so there’s a potential saving.
      There must be something happening where you live surely?

      • Ian T. March 14, 2016 at 11:21 am

        Yes, Lambsy, they are building hundreds of houses without much concern for the infrastructure. Our library is soon to be run by volunteers to avoid closure. The Post Office closed and was resited in our local Spa shop. The Natwest bank closed down – only ONE bank here now. But are we complaining? Not really. This is a get-up-and-go caring community of happy people.

        • Pete March 14, 2016 at 2:49 pm

          Ian.T What has your response got in common with social housing on the islands.

          • Ian T. March 16, 2016 at 8:27 am

            Just answering Lambsy, Pete – who ever she is!

        • lambsy March 14, 2016 at 9:52 pm

          Glad you’ve found your niche, sounds like the community you now live in needs your undivided attention. That is of course unless you intend to get up and go from there as well?

          • Ian T. March 16, 2016 at 10:31 am

            Oh dear, Lambsy. You certainly have a problem with me though I can assure you that it’s totally misguided. I’ll be in Scilly next month though I doubt you will show your face.

  4. Jane Phillips, Rutland, UK March 12, 2016 at 11:13 am

    Not only is extra social housing needed, but stricter rules regarding second or holiday homes need to be applied. First and foremost priority should be made for locals, especially younger generation, to be able to buy a house, & I think the government or HRH Prince of Wales should step in here to help. Secondly, holiday homes really should be re-thought about regarding extra tax etc, which in turn would go back to the Islands to help pay for other necessities for Islanders. I love the Scillies, and the thought of these beautiful islands just dying away through lack of investment and forward thinking is just awful. Lets all step up & give proper funding for housing, infrastructure and transport links for these islanders. They deserve out support.

    • Confusedcious March 13, 2016 at 11:21 pm

      Dear Jane,
      nothing is ever simple. Have you ever considered the percentage of former social housing homes that have been lost to local families forever as a result of right to buy? Now housing association stock is in the ‘sell off’ sights of government.
      Build more in a place with very limited land by all means but if it is bought and then sold off by the first intake of tenants the Islands are worse off, not better off.
      This is because those who have accumulated the wealth to buy in at island market prices tend to have already had their families elsewhere and are approaching a time in their lives when they are more likely to be adding to the demand for those services which are particularly expensive for the Islands to provide.
      This is why we need to keep an eye open for the mooted proposals to allow the building of open market housing for our many recently imported important types.
      Some of these people aren’t completely stupid, build for say£125,000 leave after five years (just before its time to paint the house again!) sell for £425,000.
      Of course its your only main residence so no Capital Gains Tax.
      Set up for a tiny mortgage when they move on ‘sweet’.

  5. Martin March 12, 2016 at 8:07 am

    Duchy of cornwall houses were our original social housing, a Duchy of Cornwall house was recently sold on Bryher to “people with “lots of money” for the best part of a million pounds by a good friend of the Lord,my point is that If the people with the original social housing can make a killing why not the people with the new ones?

  6. wouldbe developer March 11, 2016 at 6:33 pm

    What are you talking about Tony? ….all new housing has residency restrictions ! .