The Greater Norwich Housing Partnership, Home Options Scheme was set up by Norwich City Council, and the District Councils at Broadland and South Norfolk. It now seems that it was flawed from the outset and has recently been given the thumbs down by consultants contracted by South Norfolk District Council. The Leader of SNDC says that this is likely to give rise to that Council withdrawing from the Partnership.
Conclusions in a Cabinet Paper presented to Broadland District Council on Tuesday said that 'a failure to negotiate a single approach to moving forward to re-design (sic) the Service, necessitates the need to withdraw from the Partnership'.
Some might think that given the serious problems with social housing which is at the heart of the Joint Core Strategy, they need their heads banging together and critical questions posed. After all, they are prepared to admit that a joint scheme introduced in 2007 gives poor value and lacks financial transparency. It is even suggested that this might understate the true extent of the failings.
It seems incomprehensible that their solution is just to abandon a mutual approach and go back to running three separate organisations and presumably separate Housing Lists. So if there is no joint working on this issue, where does it leave the Joint Core Strategy itself, which is purported to be a joint umbrella scheme for the provision of affordable housing in the Norwich Planning Area.
The system used to allocate social housing is coming under increased pressure and housing of any kind becomes an increasing financial challenge for the young and less well off. We are bombarded with portends of a growing crisis and exhortations to allow unbridled development, while Government shows desperation by talk of introducing development by default and even extending residential riverside moorings.
It seems that this is not so much about housing numbers but more about housing cost. If affordable housing has not been provided because it is too expensive on any level, even to let, the present policy is bust. Curiously this problem had already been identified by the Smith Institute and was made in the SNUB submission to the Planning Inspectors. They chose to ignore it. That it should come back to haunt a Conservative-led Coalition, when they previously sought so desperately to remove housing from the nation's balance sheet, is almost poetic.
The Greater Norwich Development Partnership is losing its gloss in the light of reality and meanwhile, it seems that the Councils are still impervious to any real financial rigour. What happened to Overview and Scrutiny in these Councils?
In spite of the financial strictures imposed on us all, the Councils show once again that they fail to see the need for more efficient and effective ways of working.