PLANS to invest over £26million to acquire hundreds of new homes and address the growing need for affordable housing in Leicester have been announced by the city council.
Leicester City Council intends to buy 371 new properties at a cost of £26.6million.
The money will come from £100million of capital set aside by the city council to support the delivery of affordable housing in Leicester and help increase the number of homes available through the council’s housing register. This will include £10.5million from a pot of cash retained from the sale of council properties under the Government’s Right to Buy scheme.
The vast majority (366) of the properties being purchased are a mix of bedsits, studios and one-bedroom flats. The council will also buy four 2-bedroom flats and a three-bedroom house as part of the deal.
Currently, there are 6,366 households on the council’s housing register, waiting for suitable homes. Of these, over a quarter are waiting for one-bedroom accommodation, with the average waiting time between five months for those assessed as being in the highest priority people, and two years.
The Leicester & Leicestershire Housing and Economic Needs Assessment (HEDNA) 2017 concluded that the city needs a further 786 new units of affordable housing each year to meet need.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “There is a desperate need for more affordable housing in the city and we are constantly looking for new ways to provide it.
“This major investment will significantly increase our housing stock and help address the growing need for affordable homes.
“The Government’s Right to Buy scheme means that we have been forced to sell thousands of council houses over the past 30 years. However, we can only keep half of the money raised through these sales and need to spend it within strict time limits, or we risk losing it all together. This means that it is absolutely vital that we reinvest this cash into replenishing our housing stock to help meet the desperate need for more affordable homes in the city.”
All existing occupiers affected by the purchase will become council housing tenants at the point of completion and will be asked to sign a tenancy agreement. Their homes will automatically be being added to the council’s ongoing programme of maintenance and energy efficiency improvements as part of the council’s commitment to meet its climate emergency targets.
Rents will also help boost the council’s rental income which will be reinvested into maintaining and improving council housing stock.
Each year, Leicester City Council loses an average of 400 council homes through the Right to Buy scheme. Over the last forty years, the city council’s housing stock has been reduced from 36,000 to 20,000 homes.
As part of its work to address the huge demand for affordable housing in Leicester, the city council has bought 525 properties to be used as council homes since April 2019, at a cost of almost £70million.
Alongside this, city council has recently completed its first phase of building new council houses which has seen 29 new homes completed at six sites across the city.
Phase two of the house building programme is due to get underway soon, with a further 56 homes are proposed at sites including Saffron Lane velodrome, Rockingham Close in Rowlatts Hill, Hydra Walk in St Peter's, Whitteney Drive in Eyres Monsell and Austin Rise in Netherhall.