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Housing and Planning

More affordable homes in your community.

There is a problem with affordable housing in Wales' communities. We can only tackle the affordable homes crisis by increasing the number of homes available and by lowering prices for people.

We can increase the number of homes by tackling Wales' empty homes crisis. The Welsh Liberal Democrats in government will prioritise bringing empty homes back into use. In 2011-12, there were an estimated 31,644 empty homes in Wales, 23,287 of which have been empty long-term; this is a rise of 6% on the previous year. Empty homes are a blight on our communities - dereliction discourages investment, they act as a target for anti-social behaviour and can be a danger to public health and the environment. Renovating these empty homes stimulates our economy, encourages investment, provides jobs and growth and helps meet the demand for affordable housing.

The Welsh Assembly Government has introduced the 'Houses into Homes' initiative, which was boosted by a budget deal between the Welsh Liberal Democrats and the Welsh Government, which doubled the initial £5million identified for the scheme to £10million. Liberal Democrats in Westminster have ensured that tens of millions of pounds that used to be sent across the border from Welsh housing revenue accounts to the Treasury will be retained in Wales to be spent on affordable council housing.

Rural areas are particularly affected by a lack of housing. The huge disparity between wages and house prices, coupled with the unaffordability of mortgages, is forcing many people, particularly young people, to relocate. This has a detrimental impact on the rural community and economy, driving down demand for businesses, shops and schools. The Welsh Liberal Democrats will give communities more say over the number of second homes in their area, which can often drive up house prices. We will encourage planners to allow for the type of affordable housing that young people need without having to move out of their community.

Welsh Liberal Democrat AM Peter Black has introduced the Mobiles Home Sites (Wales) Bill, which seeks to modernise the mobile home licencing regime in Wales, to overcome the exploitation by site owners that vulnerable park home residents can sometimes experience and improve the standards of management and quality of life on mobile home sites.

In government, Welsh Liberal Democrats will prioritise…

  • Bringing empty properties back into use with a Wales-wide Empty Homes strategy, including helping each local authority employ a full time Empty Homes officer, developing a website to share best practice and raise of the profile of the empty homes initiative, and simplifying the legislation and procedures surrounding Empty Dwelling Management orders and Compulsory Purchase Orders.
  • Implementing a Mortgage Guarantee Scheme, where the Welsh Government and housebuilders act as guarantors, helping buyers secure high loan-to-value mortgages where they may only have a 5% deposit. Such a scheme was agreed as part of a budget deal between the Welsh Government and the Welsh Liberal Democrats, but Welsh Labour's failings led to the scheme's collapse.
  • A requirement that planning permission be attained to change the use of a dwelling house to an HMO for 3-6 unrelated people. This would enable local authorities to decide what percentage of dwellings should be in multiple occupation, helping to maintain balance in communities.
  • Changing the way 'second homes' are categorised in the planning system, to make it easier for communities to have a say in the number of second homes.
  • Protecting any new social rented housing from being sold under the Right-to-Buy scheme for a minimum of twenty-five years in areas where this is needed.
  • Putting in place a key workers scheme using both HomeBuy and Low Cost Ownership schemes to help those on low incomes get onto the housing ladder.
  • Passing a Community Bill of Rights, which will strengthen the powers of local authorities and community councils to ensure their communities thrive, for example, to protect local cultural and social hubs.
  • Introducing a 'Community Right to Buy' which would enable community organisations to register an interest in land or buildings that were designed for public use, so that if the property comes up for sale they have first refusal, subject to a community ballot.
  • Reforming the planning process by focussing on the twin aims of making it quicker and increasing local voices in the process. We'll order a technical review and act on its findings.