July 24 2014 Latest news:
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Hard hats were at the ready as a council began the latest phase of building its own homes – the start of an ambitious move that will see £32 million spent on its stock over the next five years.
As part of a drive to build more council properties, which Uttlesford District Council hopes will help clear some of the 1,600 people on its waiting list, the authority is now searching for additional sites on top of its redevelopment of Mead Court and Cannons Mead, in Stansted.
Construction work on the £4.3m scheme, to replace what the council called “severely-outdated bedsit accommodation”, got underway this week.
Eight houses, nine bungalows and 12 flats will be built over a two phase approach, with the first phase due for completion in November.
Uttlesford is one of a small number of authorities in the country that is building its own council homes. Between now and 2019 an estimated £16m will be spent on new builds, a figure matched by the amount spent on improvements and maintenance on its existing stock.
Cabinet member for housing, Cllr Julie Redfern, said: “We’re looking at all the other sites we own and trying to maximise their potential.
“This means identifying those that are outdated or no longer fit-for-purpose, whether there are small pieces of land we could build houses on, or even garages that are rarely used. Last year we knocked down four garages in Leaden Roding and built five bungalows in their place.”
With a further £16m to be injected into the maintenance of council properties, existing tenants will also benefit.
Cllr Redfern added: “It is not just about building. We have a big improvements programme and a lot of work will be done on existing properties. It’s worth emphasising that this is to help with an ever increasing waiting list but also to help improve the quality of homes that our existing tenants live in. It’s about making things better for them.”
The council has said its new homes in Stansted Mountfitchet, being built by contractors Willmott Dixon, will feature efficient heating and hot water systems designed to minimise fuel consumption and, in theory, save tenants money on fuel.
The hope is that tenants will be able to move into their new homes in time for Christmas.