The Bim Afolami Interview: Harpenden MP backs more houses for first time buyers

Bim Afolami being interviewed for The Herts Advertiser.

Bim Afolami being interviewed for The Herts Advertiser. - Credit: Archant

We need more houses for people looking for their first home, and for their last, Harpenden’s MP has said.

In the latest instalment from his exclusive interview with the Herts Advertiser, Bim Afolami gave his thoughts on the district’s housing shortage.

A recent investigation by this paper revealed a significant shortfall in the number of affordable homes being built in the district.

Bim Afolami said: “With the Local Plan we have had some difficulties, so St Albans council is in the process of figuring out a new plan.

“As an MP, I do not have authority over planning, so I’m never going to say this particular house should not be here or there.

“But we need a much more diverse mix of housing in the district. There is a problem that housing needs to be more affordable at both ends.

“We want people to be able to downsize as well when they are elderly. I think that is the way we need to go.”

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“I would be supportive of funding more houses for first time buyers.”

St Albans council is rethinking its Local Plan after the High Court rejected a draft version.

Whatever ends up being built, Bim thinks houses should add to the town, aesthetically and financially.

“The reason people do not want building near them is in previous times, when housing went in, infrastructure was not improved, then traffic worsens and it negatively impacts people’s lives.

“If it was up to me, when the land is sold, some of that money would go towards infrastructure.

“When the infrastructure is not there it damages everybody, so we have to ensure whatever development happens in the new Local Plan, it’s done in a way that means everybody can benefit.

“We also need homes to look nice. I was at BRE [Building Research Establishment in Bricket Wood] recently and we have a national, if not world, leader in building materials.

“So let’s make the developments we need to do, let’s make them exciting, let’s make them places where everyone wants to live.” He has also met with St Albans council’s portfolio holder for planning, Mary Maynard, to thrash out the problems local people are facing.

“I respect that I do not have the ability to make decisions, but as a representative for everybody living in Harpenden, it’s incumbent upon me to put their view that housing is done in an appropriate way that aesthetically benefits Harpenden.”