Kingsbridge Town Council are planning to build their own “truly affordable” housing and are calling on local people for help.

Cllr Chris Povey, Mayor of Kingsbridge, said that Kingsbridge Town Council is creating a Neighbourhood Plan that looks at the “critical needs of the town” to have “appropriately priced housing for people working and living in the local economy”.

He said that it was an “extremely momentous decision” that the Neighbourhood Plan for Kingsbridge would have a “single focus and single outcome - to deliver truly affordable homes”.

Cllr Povey explained that the council were “right at the beginning” of the project and haven’t yet clarified whether the homes would be to buy, to rent, prefabricated, self build, tree houses or underground houses, all options were on the table.

“Currently we are uniquely placed”, Cllr Povey explained, “we can borrow money from central government at very low interest rates to enable us as a council to become controlling developers, and under the Neighbourhood Plan, there are funds available for project management.

“We would need to have a community referendum once plans were finalised so the people of Kingsbridge could vote on what they wanted.”

Cllr Povey continued, saying truly affordable housing “is not being delivered by anyone else” and while planning permission has been sought for developments around Kingsbridge with “chunks of affordable housing”, developers are building them because they can’t “maximise profit”.

He also talked about whether ‘affordable housing’ was truly affordable. He said in Churchstow, a three-bedroom ‘affordable home’ was £280,000, meaning “people needed to find £30,000 for a deposit and still support a £250,000 mortgage - who can do that?”

He also said that mortgage providers will only lend you “four or five times your annual salary”, and when the average earnings of someone living in the South Hams is £20,301, that means two adults who earn the average wage can only get a mortgage for between £162,408 and £203,010, and many earn less than that.

Cllr Povey said: “We should be acutely aware that these are people who are critical to the survival of Kingsbridge. They work in our local businesses, they make our economy work, they staff our hospitals and our tourism businesses. We have to look at the future for these people.

Cllr Povey, who is a trained architect, said: “The housing needs to be architecturally brilliant, environmentally brilliant and desirable. Low cost housing is often small boxes with low light, we need to maximise space and maximise light.

“The great benefit of Kingsbridge Town Council building these houses is we don’t need to make a profit, what we do need is help to make it happen.”

Kingsbridge Town Council are therefore calling on anyone who would be able to help see this project come to life.

“If anyone appreciates the society in Kingsbridge and has enjoyed being a part of it, this is an opportunity to give something back. If anyone has land that we can help them through the planning process to build homes on.

“Small pockets of land, enough for one or three houses, would be great. Along with anyone who has experience building affordable housing, in finance, project management, engineering, architecture. We want to get a pool of people who can help us provide real local housing for Kingsbridge.”Cllr Povey expects the project to take between 12 and 24 months and wants to kick start it during the summer recess in August.

If anyone is interested in the project, contact Kingsbridge Town Clerk Martin Johnson on: [email protected]