Our vision for housing is:
To enable everyone living on the Island to have a place they call home and can live with independence
The Isle of Wight, a UNESCO Biosphere and Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is one of the most beautiful and attractive places to live and visit in England. The Island currently faces a unique opportunity to address its housing needs for the future. We aim to reflect through this strategy our ambitions and housing need that balances our Island status and the needs of local people and businesses which enable our unique local heritage, landscapes, and communities to thrive.
Our ambition is to balance our housing supply with our housing needs. We all need a home that is ‘affordable’, of good quality, and appropriate to our needs. This need has only increased during the Covid-19 pandemic which has severely disrupted construction, impacted more households struggling with their housing costs and increased homelessness. There is of course the potential for more damage to the housing sector and wider economy to come from the pandemic, but there are already signs of positive change that could benefit the Island with the move to home working and greener economies including the decarbonisation of existing homes.
There is no doubt that pressures on housing and homelessness were already rising before the pandemic, and we continue to seek better solutions to tackle the recent large increase in homelessness and to prevent homelessness occurring in the first place. We remain committed to ensuring that help is in place for households vulnerable to homelessness if the worst happens.
Whilst most of us on the Island are and remain well-housed, that may change if we do not act. The house you are living in may suit you now, but what will happen as you get older, or your family circumstances change? Increasing housing choice is essential for us all to achieve maximum independence and to have better life chances. It will also keep young people from needing to leave the Island to gain ‘affordable’ housing and better employment opportunities.
Our economy will benefit from the additional housing demand and activity generated by tackling these issues. We know there is a particular need to recruit and retain skilled people to work in essential public services and local industries including construction for the longer-term recovery and economic sustainability of the Island. The lack of suitable housing to meet this aspiration has long been identified as a barrier to this and needs to be addressed urgently.
The strategy commits the Isle of Wight Council to promoting the development of new homes for Island communities as part of our wider Regeneration ambitions. Our success depends on our partners and others, including statutory funding agencies, housing associations, the voluntary sector, private developers and residents. The new homes required will mainly be built by others and the council is prepared to intervene in the market as necessary in the delivery of ‘affordable’ homes.
Although the strategy is now approved, we welcome feedback on any aspect of it.
Please send all feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org