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Right to Buy could wreck unique Cadbury legacy in Bournville

Bournville Village Trust: Social housing is not Government's to sell.

Bournville Village Trust.
Bournville Village Trust.

The unique 100-year Cadbury legacy of providing high-quality homes for working people will be ended by the Government’s “Right to Buy” scheme, the Bournville Trust has revealed.

Forcing housing associations to sell off properties will mean “destroying over 100 years of a successful and mixed community created by George Cadbury”, according to the Bournville Village Trust.

Entrepreneur George Cadbury created Bournville in the 1890s to be a home for workers at the Cadbury chocolate factory , offering high-quality houses, sports facilities, schools and museums.

But housing managers say his vision of a decent home for all, inspired by his Quaker faith, will be destroyed by Government plans to extend the “right to buy” currently enjoyed by council tenants to 1.3 million households who rent homes from housing associations.

The properties will be sold at a discount of anything up to 70 per cent of the market value, depending on how long tenants have lived there.

Housing associations will be expected to build new homes using the money. They will receive cash from local councils to compensate for the discount, which councils in turn are expected to raise by selling off empty council houses in expensive neighbourhoods.

Bournville Village Trust, which managed 8,950 homes in Birmingham and Shropshire, issued the stark warning in a paper submitted to the Commons Communities and Local Government Committee, which held an inquiry into the Government’s plans.

The trust warned: “The Government has insisted that plans to extend Right to Buy will not lead to a drop in the overall supply of affordable homes in England.

“However, the reality is that they would immediately lead to a reduction in affordable housing in Bournville where there is simply no remaining physical capacity to build replacement homes.

“In addition, selling social housing in Bournville would go directly against the wishes of our Quaker founder – philanthropist, chocolate-maker and one of the country’s most prominent and famous entrepreneurs, George Cadbury, whose vision was to create a village where a mixture of people, whatever their economic background, could enjoy high-quality housing.”

George Cadbury
George Cadbury

“The introduction of Right to Buy at Bournville Village Trust would also inevitably lead to the ‘gentrification’ of this part of Birmingham, which would completely undermine the original vision for the village.”

The homes did not belong to the Government to sell, the Trust said, because they were built “as a result of the goodwill and philanthropic efforts of our founder” and not with government money.

Bournville’s MP Steve McCabe (Lab, Selly Oak) said: “Bournville Village Trust are absolutely right. It will destroy Bournville and the policy will also create a future housing crisis across the country.”

Other housing trusts have also expressed concern. Walsall Housing Group, which owns and manages 19,000 properties, told MPs it expected to receive £90,000 from the sale of a three-bedroom house, including the funding from local councils - but it would cost around £120,000 to build a new home.

It said: “In the long term, the Right to Buy will have a negative effect on the supply of affordable housing in Walsall... capital raised from sales will still not be sufficient to replace homes lost on a one for one basis.”

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “Anybody who works hard and aspires to own their own home should have the opportunity to realise their dream.

“Our voluntary agreement with the National Housing Federation will ensure that more than 1.3 million housing association tenants will have the opportunity to do so, while for every home sold there will be at least one additional property built.

“Under the terms of the agreement housing associations may exercise discretion over sales of properties provided through charitable means.”



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