Local elections 23: housing does not have to cost the earth

 Election 21   Kirsty Knight councillor for Orton Waterville Election 21   Kirsty Knight councillor for Orton Waterville
Election 21 Kirsty Knight councillor for Orton Waterville
The Green Party has launched its local elections campaign with a promise to push for rent controls, and for a mass programme of council houses to be built to “Passivhaus” (German for passive house) environmental standards, writes Kirsty Knight, Green Party councillor for Orton Waterville.

​The Peterborough Greens know that housing, its affordability and availability, is a huge issue for plenty of people in this city. Many renters are struggling with the rising costs of living coupled with the increasing cost of renting. Many young people are finding it nigh on impossible to be able to afford to buy a new home.

We know that the lists for those waiting for social housing are always increasing, and that both Peterborough and the UK are facing a huge crisis in housing. Housing is a right, the Green party believes that no-one should be homeless and that everyone has a right to a home.

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The party’s housing pledge would include rent controls, to limit increases, and a plan to build 100,000 council homes a year, each to the Passivhaus or equivalent standard. By doing so the strict insulation and energy efficiency standards would reduce the cost of bills.

Wider changes to planning laws would require all new housing, whether public or private, to meet similar efficiency standards and to have solar panels and heat pumps fitted.

The plan also calls for new housing developments to only be built with a matching investment in local infrastructure, including schools, GP surgeries and sustainable transport.

Green party co-leader Adrian Ramsay said “Housing is the big issue” in rural areas, as well as in towns and cities.

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The Green Party would empower local authorities to bring empty homes back into use. They would transform the planning system to incentivise local authorities to spread small developments across the area, where appropriate, rather than building huge new estates.

We would ensure all new private and public sector housing meets passivehaus or equivalent energy efficiency standards and that housebuilders include solar panels and heat pumps on all new homes. The Greens would also protect valuable Green space for local communities.

Nicola Day, leader of the Peterborough Green group and candidate for Orton Waterville, said: “The Peterborough Green Group of councillors successfully negotiated a £2 million Ecohomes project. This will ensure a flagship, energy efficient housing development is built to provide social housing and temporary accommodation. This will help to benefit those people desperately waiting for housing, and will reduce the costs the council have to pay to house those in hotel or B&B temporary accommodation. We would aim to see the aspirations of energy efficiency homes for all new builds implemented in the local plan.”

Green Party Co-Leader, Carla Denyer said: “In the short term we would implement an immediate rent freeze and eviction ban to prevent homelessness, The Scottish Greens are already doing this. In the longer term we would give councils power to bring in rent controls and police stricter controls on the types of homes being built.”

The Green party believes that affordable housing does not have to cost the earth.