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I won’t set cheap homes limit at garden city at Ebbsfleet, says minister

A Conservative planning minister has revealed that garden cities, such as the one at Ebbsfleet, will not have to contain any affordable homes.

Developers will not need to reserve any proportion of properties for those who cannot afford to buy.

During a debate, Labour’s Roberta Blackman-Woods, shadow communities and local government minister, asked what proportion of the development at Ebbsfleet will consist of affordable homes.

Conservative minister Nick Boles responded: “The government does not impose a particular level of affordable housing for housing schemes.

“The percentage of affordable units will be a matter for local decision-making, taking account of the local authorities’ local plans and site viability.

“Unrealistic Section 106 agreements result in no development, no regeneration and no community benefits.”

Developer Land Securities' former vision for a new town at Ebbsfleet
Developer Land Securities' former vision for a new town at Ebbsfleet

Developers can challenge council-imposed requirements for affordable housing, arguing that they affect prices within the rest of the development.

However, Dartford MP Gareth
Johnson said: “It would be wrong to suggest that there won’t be any affordable housing, it is simply that the government is empowering the local development corporation to decide on the quantities rather than dictating from the top.

“In the past when central government has tried to impose targets it has led to no houses being built, and therefore no investment in the local community.

“The make-up of the garden city will be decided upon by local people on the development corporation and not by central government.

“Locally, Dartford council has recently shown that we will always look for opportunities to provide homes for those on lower incomes by building the first new council houses in decades.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, during an announcement of £2.4 billion of funding for new homes, said: “I’m clear that local communities developing new garden cities is an essential part of the solution to providing affordable homes to live in, building a stronger economy and a fairer society, where every person can get on in life.”

During the budget in March, Chancellor George Osborne confirmed plans for the new garden city with an initial 15,000 new homes at Ebbsfleet.

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