Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Leeds to build new council housing for first time in 20 years

Jon Land for 24dash.com, 23 Feb 2009


Leeds City Council is to begin building new council houses in the city after a break of more than 20 years, it was announced today.

As part of its push to boost housing in the city by providing a range of different types of homes, the council is currently seeking tenders to build almost 80 properties across three sites – 27 of which will be council homes.

The news comes after the start of the Leeds: The Housing City campaign, at which council leaders declared providing affordable housing to be a top priority for Leeds.

It is the first time the council has built council homes since 1989, during which time the number in Leeds has shrunk from 96,000 in 1980 to around 57,000 due to homes being purchased through Right to Buy and being demolished when they have become unsustainable.

These council houses are part of larger developments aimed at providing decent housing in a range of tenures and will be the first phase of council house building in the city.

There is also potential for even more council homes after these, with 400 to be delivered through the PFI schemes at Little London and Beeston Hill & Holbeck.

These schemes demonstrate the council’s commitment to the delivery of high quality affordable housing and also responding to the challenge that central government has placed upon local authorities, particularly in the current housing climate.

Along with these new properties, the council is embarking on the phase one build of its Affordable Housing Strategic Partnership, which will see more than 100 houses built for ‘social rent’.

Funded through the Homes and Communities Agency’s (HCA) national affordable housing programme, being delivered by the housing association, Accent Housing. They will not be council properties, instead they will be owned and managed by Accent, however the council will nominate people for the new properties.

The sites include 23 social rent and ‘HomeBuy’ properties on Glendale Road in Morley, along with 47 similar units on Highfield Gardens, Wortley, and 26 on Farrow Rd in Armley. There will also be 16 social rent units on Chaucer Gardens in Pudsey. These schemes are still subject to funding approval from the HCA and planning has so far only been issued for Farrow Road.

This first phase contributes towards the target of delivering over 1,150 affordable homes through the Affordable Housing Strategic Partnership, attracting over £150 million of public and private sector investment.

The second phase of schemes will see significant delivery of affordable homes on sites in South Leeds at Middleton and the Beckhills estate, together with a range of smaller sites across the city.

Councillor Les Carter, the council’s executive board member for housing, said: “This is an important step for Leeds and a great sign of our commitment to providing decent homes for the people of Leeds.

“We have built plenty of sheltered housing since the ‘80s but these are the first ‘bread and butter’ council homes for 20 years.

“It is, however, vital to remember that building council housing is part of the solution, not the solution itself. We will not see a return to the vast council estates of the past, instead we aim to create sustainable communities based around a variety of different housing types and tenures.”


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