LAST weekend I officially opened a new housing development at Carharrack that has been built by Ocean Homes.
The housing was exactly the sort that we need more of in our area, with shared ownership and equity on offer, as well as social housing and others available on the open market.
It is these affordable and mixed developments that are helping first-time buyers get on the first rung of the property ladder and it was clear during my visit just how popular the housing is with younger families and couples who want a place of their own.
We need to make sure this aspiration becomes a reality and over the past couple of years the Government has been doing a lot to help people get their foot in the door. The 'Help to Buy' scheme, which comes in two parts, has already helped thousands.
The mortgage guarantee part underwrites some of the lenders' exposure to enable mortgage companies to offer 95 per cent mortgages and a deposit of just 5 per cent. Until the credit crunch, 95 per cent mortgages were very common and I remember using them to buy my first flat. Even with the economy in recovery first-time buyers are being given the impossible task of raising around a 30 per cent deposit, so this part of the scheme can really help.
The second element of 'Help to Buy' provides an equity loan for the deposit of households looking to buy a new-build home. As well as helping about 25,000 people already, it also makes sure new houses are being built because it provides the security for housing developers to get building and not sit on land reserves. This week the Chancellor announced that the scheme will be extended until 2020 and I believe this is another step to make sure home-ownership in Britain is the norm and not the preserve of the privileged few.
It is clear that we need to be building new and affordable housing in Cornwall to help those who dream of their own home and want to get on in life.
The development at Carharrack was also an example of one sensitive to the area, adding just a small extension to the village and not disruptive to the original community. I have always said that there needs to be a balance when it comes to new housing that makes sure the community is involved, and certainly that we should build on brownfield instead of greenfield whenever possible.
I want to make sure that we get these developments right but also that we encourage affordable housing to be built. Young families moving in to an area can really add to the economy and dynamic of a community and I look forward to opening my next development.