Members of 18 Island parish, town and community councils recently met representatives from the Isle of Wight Council and local housing providers, to discuss how they can best work together to increase affordable housing on the Island.
The meeting was organised by the Isle of Wight Association of Local Councils (IWALC).
Chairwoman of IWALC, Cllr Diana Conyers, said: “We get lots of complaints from our members about housing developments imposed on them from above. They are not against housing per se. Their concern is that these developments don’t provide the sort of housing that local residents need or can afford.
“But we cannot change the planning system, at least not overnight, so we need to explore other ways of getting the sort of housing we really need.”
Leader of the Isle of Wight Council, Cllr Lora Peacey-Wilcox, spoke passionately about the current housing crisis on the Island, particularly the need for more social housing. She said: “Having grown up on a large council estate in Cowes, I understand the need for social housing. Knowing you have a roof over your head is vital to wellbeing.” She emphasised that the council is determined to address this issue, and to work with local councils in doing so.
Cllrs Ian Stephens and Paul Fuller, who are responsible for housing and planning, reported that the council’s 2022/23 budget includes the facility to draw down up to £40 million for affordable housing development.
The IW Council’s strategic manager for housing and homelessness, Jamie Brenchley, explained the extent of the current housing crisis, with an 82 per cent reduction in the number of private properties available for rent over the last two years. This has increased demand for the limited stock of social housing and left an unprecedented number of households in temporary accommodation. A particular concern was the amount of families in temporary housing, including 325 children.