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Over the last decade, house prices in the borough have shot up by around 50%, meaning many local people and families have been priced out of the housing market.
With a dire shortage of good quality, affordable private rental properties in the town and a very long waiting list for council properties, Southend Borough Council could utilise this land to build in the region of 400 new homes. This would not only substantially relieve chronic housing pressures, but also bring in much needed revenue to the Council which has seen its grant from central government cut by around £8 million year on year to the tune of £40 million in total.
The NHS sold this publicly owned plot of land, where previously a new NHS diagnostic and treatment centre had been planned, for £7.8 million in August this year. The value of this land once developed is estimated to be in excess of £40 million – potentially meaning a very handsome profit for a private developer and its shareholders!
Southend Council’s recent track record of building ‘affordable’ housing has fallen well short of its target of 30% with figures showing it has only attained a level of 19%.
The term ‘affordable’ is something of a misnomer and in reality just means ‘80% of market value’, which is not affordable at all for many many people.
In January 2018, the New Economics Foundation looked into the planned developments on NHS land which had been sold off, or was due to be sold off.
– Of the homes to be built for sale on NHS land, four out of five will be unaffordable to a nurse on an average salary. And where they could afford the mortgage repayments, a nurse would have to save for an average of 53 years to afford the deposit.
– Only one in 10 of the homes built on sold-off NHS land will be for genuinely affordable social rent. (There are 1.2 million English households on the waiting list for social housing.)
– The average expected sale price for these new homes, based on area estimates, is £315,279. This is 10 times the annual salary of a nurse. In Southend, the average property price is £304,774.