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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Wigton new houses plans change due to 'bedroom tax'

A housing development planned for Wigton is likely to include fewer “affordable” three-bedroom houses than originally planned because demand is being driven down by the bedroom tax.

All residential developments are expected to include a specified number of affordable homes, either sold at discounted prices of rented through a social landlord.

A planning report on the Wigton development, proposed for land adjoining West Road in the town, originally envisaged including seven affordable three-bedroom houses and five two-bedroom ones.

But an assessment of current housing need in Wigton carried out in recent weeks reveals a sharp drop in the demand for affordable three bedroom properties.

The report, submitted to Allerdale Council’s planning department, points out that currently just over half of the affordable homes demand in the town’s Woodside and Waverton parishes, is for one bedroom properties, while the remainder – 42 per cent – is for two bedroom houses.

Previously, the majority of the demand – 56 per cent – was for three-bedroom houses.

Officials point out that the fall in demand has come after the introduction of tougher restrictions of mortgage lending, and after the introduction of the spare room subsidy – the so-called bedroom tax.

The News & Star on Monday revealed how Riverside – Carlisle’s biggest landlord – currently has a rising number of three-bedroom properties standing empty.

Again, officials say the fall in demand for such homes, once the most popular on its books, is being driven by the bedroom tax, which cuts the benefits of those who are deemed to be under-occupying social housing.

The Government has defended its policy, saying the policy both cuts the benefits bill and frees up three bedroom homes for bigger families who cannot afford to buy their own home.

The Wigton development will consist of 60 homes in total – the majority a combination of three and four bedroom homes for the open market, along with a small number of two-bed houses.

Twelve of the 20 homes are expected to be “affordable”.

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