From: “Reading Borough Council” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 15 Sep 2014 10:18
Subject: Plans for 1,000 New Council Homes Unveiled
Plans for 1,000 New Council Homes Unveiled
Reading Borough Council Press Release
PLANS to build up to 1,000 new Council homes in Reading over the next 30 years are set to be unveiled.
The ambitious Council scheme aims to meet the growing need for affordable housing in Reading as house prices and private sector rents continue to rise, pricing many households out of the market. Homelessness in Reading has tripled since 2011 and there are more than 9,000 people on the town’s waiting list.
For the first time in 25 years, local authorities have been allowed to keep income from rents. Today’s proposal by Reading Borough Council is to invest that money in existing Council housing stock – meaning better homes for existing tenants – and to build up to 1,000 new Council homes across the town.
The plans will be considered at a meeting of the Council’s Policy Committee on Monday September 22. If approved, the Council will immediately begin planning the first phase of development which includes a potential 100-plus homes being built, including more than 40 homes at a site at Conwy Close.
The proposals follow an independent study by specialist advisors Housing Quality Network (HQN) which found that:
- The Council has capacity to deliver a programme of around 1,000 new homes over 30 years, including 250 new homes over the first five years
- There is capacity to invest in better Council housing for existing tenants, including increased investment in energy efficiency. This is in addition to the solar panel project which was announced last November
- The Council owns land with potential for 300 new homes and will need to acquire land for the remainder on the open market. Funds to buy sites are included in the proposals
Councillor Richard Davies, Lead Member for Housing, said:
“This important programme aims to alleviate what I have publicly called Reading’s housing crisis, whereby thousands of households are in housing need and homelessness is rising steeply. Despite our improving economy, many people are in danger of being left behind because of spiralling rental prices and the high cost of living.
“The addition of up to 1,000 homes – alongside continued improvements to our existing accommodation – represents a significant investment. This, on top of the newly delivered 40 homes for older people at Cedar Court and the recently announced Supported Living Scheme nearby, demonstrates this Council’s on-going commitment to providing good quality affordable housing for people in our town.
“All our Council houses meet decent homes standards, are genuinely affordable and are, importantly, under democratic control – managed by the Council in consultation with tenants.
“Reading is a tight urban area and finding suitable sites for building will continue to prove challenging, but land has already been identified for the first phase of new homes, including more than 40 at Conwy Close. I look forward to seeing real construction work commencing.”
Reading Borough Council’s Housing Revenue Account is ring-fenced. That means it cannot be spent on other Council services.
Funding for the programme of improvements and new building will come from borrowing against future rental income, paid back by income from rents; and a range of funding including receipts from Council houses sold under Right to Buy. Rents will follow national guidance and be reviewed every year as usual. All borrowing will be paid back by the end of the 30 year period.
Notes for Editors:
The full report to Policy Committee on September 22nd can be found at: http://www.reading.gov.uk/meetings/details/3689/ (Item 11)
Housing Waiting List and Homelessness in Reading
- In July 2014, there were 9,346 households on Reading’s housing waiting list with 44% (3,925) of these assessed as having an identified housing need.
- The number of households accepted as homeless in Reading increased from 85 in 2011/12 to 243 in 2013/14.
Media Contact: Oscar Mortali
Tel: 0118 937 2301