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£7million set to be invested to provide new council housing in city

Published on Friday, May 31, 2019

Image: An aerial view of houses in Leicester

LEICESTER City Council is set to invest a further £7million on building and buying properties which can be used to provide much-needed affordable housing in the city.

  

City Mayor Peter Soulsby has set out plans to use £7m to buy houses and housing sites which can be turned into affordable rented homes, in addition to £8m which was agreed back in November 2018.

The move is needed to help tackle the level of housing need in the city, and is the latest stage of a longer-term project which could see about £100m invested in new housing over the next four years.

Around 30 percent of the latest £7m (£2.1m) will come from a pot of money retained from the sale of council properties under the Government’s Right To Buy scheme – the maximum amount of Right To Buy money the council can use for this purpose.

The remainder 70% percent (4.9m) will come from the HRA’s resources and borrowing against income from council house rents.

The additional investment will now enable the council to look at options including purchasing privately-owned homes both within existing council housing areas and beyond; purchasing blocks of flats, and buying up whole rows of privately-rented homes.

The extra money would be used to cover the costs of buying up land and buildings, and the costs of any works needed to bring the sites up to the required standard to be rented out.

By investing the money in this way, the council will also avoid the need to pay back any unused Right To Buy funds to the Government.

Currently about 786 new affordable homes are needed each year, but only about 146 – less than a fifth of the amount needed – are secured for use despite the range of options used by the council.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “New, affordable council housing is badly needed if we are to meet the level of housing need in the city.

“Since the Government gave tenants the right to buy their council homes more than 30 years ago, we have been forced to sell thousands of council houses, which has drastically reduced what is available.

“Now, by using money raised under the Government’s Right To Buy scheme, we can significantly increase our housing stock by buying up existing or planned properties, to ensure they go to house the people in most need on the city council’s waiting list.”

Work started in the summer 2018, including negotiations on sales, assessment of potential properties and auction sites.

It is the latest move to create more much-needed affordable housing in the city. Earlier this year, the city council announced its new housing company which will soon be starting work on 29 new affordable homes in the first phase of a 370-home house-building project.

Since 2011, over 300 new affordable homes have been created by the city council making land available cheaply to social housing providers.

The city council intends to deliver about 1,500 new affordable homes over the next four years, including developing sites to provide the estimated 640 additional Extra Care supported living spaces needed over the next 10 years.