In the news this week, Bristol City Council has revealed the number of affordable homes being built in the next few years.
In 2021/22, there were 474 affordable homes completed, the highest level in a decade. But this still falls well short of the target that Marvin Rees set when he was first elected back in 2016 – to reach 800 affordable homes a year by 2020. The mayor’s record on building affordable housing drew criticism at the last local election in 2021, while delays were partially blamed on the pandemic.
The council’s current target is even more ambitious – 1,000 affordable homes a year by the end of the mayor’s time in office in 2024. This means the number of affordable homes built must be doubled in the space of two years if the council is going to get anywhere near its own target.
An interactive map has been released, showing all the affordable housing schemes in the city being built in the next few years. Data shows that there are more than 1,300 new affordable homes currently being built across the city.
The housebuilding drive comes in the context of an increasingly unaffordable private rented sector, with 19,000 households on Bristol’s social housing waiting list as well as more than 1,200 households in temporary accommodation.
However, last month, it was revealed the council-owned housing company Goram Homes had not told development partners that it had forecasted hundreds of delays to new homes. The council tried to hide a list of new projected start and completion dates of developments by taking down this information from meeting papers and replacing it with a redacted version.
Goram Homes said the reasons behind the delays included a slowdown in the housing market caused by record-high construction costs and rising prices for materials that had seen sales rates fall by half since early last year. This has particularly impacted high-density flats in the city centre.
This week, a Cable investigation revealed that a modular housing scheme in Lockleaze due to be completed in late 2022, including 93 affordable homes, was in crisis. The foundations of dozens of houses at the Bonnington Walk development by Legal and General will need remediation work that means people will have to wait a year to move in.
The council’s housing chief Tom Renhard said: “It is crucial that we continue to build a range of affordable homes to rent and to buy across the city, meeting the varied housing needs of the Bristol citizens who cannot afford to pay market prices.
“We’re moving ahead with plans to build social housing with the recent HRA budget approval putting forward £453m to deliver 1715 new council homes - over five years.”
The Bristol Round-Up
A Bristol Kill the Bill demonstrator was imprisoned yesterday for two years and six months. Carl Davis, 26 from St Werburghs, pled guilty to ‘riot’, for posing for photographs in front of a burning police van in Bristol in March 2021.
Bristol City Council could abandon its waste and home-building companies and bring the services back in-house. A council report has expressed “serious concerns” about the performance of Bristol Waste, which has suggested a number of significant cuts to services to balance its books, and as a result advisors have suggested the council revise its approach to having shareholdings entirely.
Bath and North East Somerset (BaNES) Council have joined the call for public control of buses under a franchising system. Following in the footsteps of councillors in Bristol, the BaNES cabinet produced a report for West of England Metro Mayor Dan Norris suggesting he bring franchising to the region.
Two operators have been chosen to run new ‘WESTlink’ minibuses by the West of England Combined Authority. Via, a global company, and WeDRT, who have experience of working with Transport for West Midlands, claim they “will not be constrained by a traditional timetable but will use clever algorithms to connect people and places”.
Bristol City Council has become the only UK city to secure money from the EU NetZeroCities Pilot Cities Programme. Mayor Marvin Rees announced that the council has won €1.5 million from the fund to put towards its Co-Innovation Lab, which will run a number of climate action projects for Bristol.
Four public focus groups have made the case for Bristol’s upcoming committee-run council to be more transparent and accessible to public involvement. Some said asking questions at City Hall can currently be “intimidating”, with others suggesting that childcare could increase democratic participation.
A woman was stabbed near the Bulldog Pub on Filton Avenue in Horfield on Tuesday afternoon. A student and a nurse were the first on the scene, attending to her while waiting for paramedics to arrive. The woman suffered minor injuries and is now in hospital.
A man in his 20s has died after his car crashed through railings on York Road in Bedminster and into the River Avon last week. Two other people in the car survived, and the police are now looking into the cause of the crash.
A new train station on Bristol Portway is due to open this summer after months of delays. The station will take passengers every half hour from the Park and Ride near Junction 18 of the M5 along the Severn Beach railway line to Bristol Temple Meads.
A section of the Concorde Way cycle and walking path will be closed for at least a year to build the new Ashley Down train station. The path will be shut between Muller Road and Ashley Vale Allotments from 6 March.
Solutions and Successes
Bristol nightclub Motion is running a fundraiser for the British Red Cross Turkey-Syria Earthquake Appeal on 1 April. The lineup will feature Redlight, Royal T, Champion, Subshift and others. You can find out more here.
Darren Jones, the Bristol North West MP who has gone viral several times for his select committee takedowns of business leaders, is launching a new citizen science project to gather information on Bristol’s ‘ghost buses’. He is asking Bristolians to submit data on their bus journeys between 1 March and 31 May to “put First Bus’ claim that its service reliability will improve from April to the test”. You can submit data here.
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