Feb 7 2013 by Ian Proctor, Harrow Observer
FORMER council houses which were bought under right to buy rules should be offered first to local families and couples when they are resold, believes a Harrow MP.
Gareth Thomas, Labour member for Harrow West, introduced a bill to the House of Commons on Wednesday last week that would give councils in London and other cities the power to control the onward sale of ex-social housing properties.
He wants the purchase of the homes to be limited to those who have lived or worked in the area for at least three years.
His bill is also a comprehensive survey and report on land throughout the country which could be used for building affordable homes.
Mr Thomas told the Observer: “We need to reform the housing market by amending the right to buy rules to boost the chances of hard working local people getting on the property ladder.
“Extending local occupancy clauses, boosting co-op housing and changing the incentives so land for housing which developers are just sitting on is brought forward for affordable housing will all help hard working people who are not rich to get on the property ladder.”
Currently, only local authorities in Britain’s national parks have the power to limit the sale of former council houses.
Mr Thomas had 10 minutes to introduce his housing market reform bill and explain to Commons colleagues how it would amend the local occupancy clause – section 157 of the Housing Act 1985.
This would mean that not just local authorities in national parks but ‘certain urban areas with the permission of the Secretary of State’ could use the legislation.
His bill would also further ‘extend the qualifying period of local occupancy clauses from three years to either five or 10 years’.
It would ‘require the Homes and Communities Agency, local authorities and the Land Registry to identify land available for housing development which has not been developed and to publish a report on the available options for development of housing on such land, and for connected purposes’.