I’m very disappointed at Conservative City Cabinet member for Housing John Lines’ comments that Jewellery Quarter apartments are the “slums of tomorrow”.
I think it’s clear to all that some developers are struggling to sell all their units, while some are struggling to even finish building them. Some have apparently approached the Council hoping to do a deal to make them available to Council tenants – but Councillor Lines has said no.
I strongly disagree with his view that these apartments are “not good enough for our people”. Whilst I agree they are not necessarily suitable for families, that doesn’t mean that individuals or young couples wouldn't be perfectly happy living in them.
I live in the Jewellery Quarter and I am not alone in being insulted by Cllr Lines’ comments. The Jewellery Quarter has a fantastic community spirit thanks to the incredible work of the Jewellery Quarter Neighbourhood Forum and its partnership working with others including the Regeneration Partnership, JQ Association and others. Branding its potential future in this way will not help future investment or the bid for World Heritage Status at all.
Of course, high quality family homes should be built across the city and I am pleased with the progress being made in that regard. But we should not ignore housing stock that is available now – and that includes apartments. In the middle of a recession we need to find sensible, good value solutions to all our problems.
What we must do though, is ensure any future developments are put through a thorough planning process that scrutinises the quality alongside current demand and potential future demand - before planning permission is given for any more apartments.