The principle of providing opportunities for every person in our community to own his/her own home is one that Together Gibraltar emphatically endorses. The local housing market is distorted by the limited space available to build in and by the structure of our economy (Cat 2 status purchases) resulting in the costs of houses having spiralled up to levels most cannot afford. It is the Government’s responsibility to provide our people with housing they can afford. While perhaps well intended, the current Government has missed the mark in failing to provide opportunities for those who are unable to aspire to private home ownership on the open market.
In the case of the newly released plans for the Hassan Tercentenary Terraces development, the low paid who genuinely need affordable housing would still struggle to meet their monthly mortgage repayments (if they could obtain a mortgage). This includes families who have outgrown the size of their home, families on the housing list, divorcees and especially those on extended supply contracts or zero hour contracts (agency workers). Affordable Housing should be designed to meet the needs of these people too.
These inflated selling prices (three times those of previous developments), are down to the vastly increased cost of build. The average cost of build per square metre for apartment blocks (over 10 dwellings) should be no more than £1,200.00 per square metre according to a BCIS survey. This figure should lower with economies of scale; there are 1,600 dwellings planned. The slightly elevated costs of building in Gibraltar can be offset, in this case, by the fact that the cost of materials are not subject to import duty and the fact that the apartments will be handed over in an unfinished state (no kitchens, bathrooms, floors etc.). The cost of build budgeted for this development comes in at well over double this figure.
The cost of preparing the land in the area for housing, including the building of a revetment to protect it from storms, while essential, is a huge contributing cost that should have been borne by a commercial development (East Side development) if attempts to sell the land to a commercial investor had been successful. Again, it is the financially disadvantaged in society who are made to foot the bill.
Together Gibraltar would like to know how the Government will fund the cost of this development? Where has the money been sourced from and what is the total cost of borrowing to the taxpayer?
None of the other parties have presented a sensible long-term strategy to address our complex housing issues in Gibraltar. Together Gibraltar will be the first party to provide a viable solution, which will safeguard future generations from being faced with an impossible problem. Together Gibraltar will ensure that affordable housing is what it claims to be and that it remains so. We will ensure that these houses do not immediately jump up to market value for the benefit of a few and the detriment of all future generations. We only have a limited amount of space in which to produce housing developments and we must treat our land respectfully and responsibly; this includes preparing it for future generations. Affordable housing must always remain as affordable housing.
If this problem is not addressed and a long term, sustainable solution not found, the only option Gibraltarians trying to enter the property market will have will be to live outside of their homeland.