Buckingham councillors win fight to change local housing policy

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Two Buckingham district councillors have won a hard-fought battle to change the social housing policy in favour of local people.

On Tuesday, Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC) cabinet members agreed a change to the Bucks Home Choice policy which will mean half of new-build properties will in future be allocated to local people.

In the past, housing has been allocated across the whole of the Aylesbury Vale district, so that people from Aylesbury would be deemed to have the same level of local connection as people from Buckingham. On Tuesday, cabinet members agreed to divide Aylesbury Vale into four sub-groups for housing allocation – Greater Aylesbury, North, South West and South East.

If the change is agreed by council, in 50 per cent of new build properties in each sub-group first preference will go to applicants with a connection to the local sub-group area.

And local applicants will be given first preference in 25 per cent of re-let properties.

District councillor for Buckingham South Robin Stuchbury and district councillor for Buckingham North Tim Mills, who have been working together on getting the change through, were both delighted at the result.

Mr Stuchbury said: “They chose the right option. There’s at least 2,500 houses coming to Buckingham and this will make a real difference.

“It means children can stay near their parents and parents can stay near their children and communities can stay together.

“It will save a lot of money in the long run because people won’t have to go to outside sources for help.

“It was the first motion I put forward in 2011 to change the housing policy in favour of local people.

“It gives me a great sense of satisfaction.”

Mr Mills said: “Although it has yet to be approved by full council, I’m very pleased the recommendation is to include the sub-groups.

“It’s good news for people throughout the Vale because wherever they are they’ve got a better chance of staying in their area.”

A total of 588 people took part in a consultation over proposed changes to the housing policy this summer.

And 474 people agreed that in future applicants should only be eligible for rehousing in the district sub-group to which they have a local connection.

If is agreed at full council on October 16, it is likely the policy change will come into effect from March next year.