July 22 2014 Latest news:
Friday, July 4, 2014
Six council houses are set to be built in Saffron Walden as Uttlesford District Council continues to tackle the area’s affordable housing shortage.
At a cabinet meeting last week, councillors gave their backing to a proposal to replace a number of disused garages backing on to Catons Lane.
The site is owned by the district council.
A planning application will now be submitted and, if approved, it is hoped building work can get underway by the end of the year.
Cabinet member for housing, Councillor Julie Redfern, was “excited” by the council’s latest proposal to build its own homes.
She told the Reporter: “This is just one of lots of sites we’re currently looking at developing but it’s one of the more straight forward and local residents seem happy with it.
“It would be nice to be able to build council houses for Saffron Walden, so I hope we can progress this scheme as quickly as possible.”
Funding for the project will come out of the Housing Revenue Account.
In 2012, the district council was saddled with £88.7m of historic housing debt from the Government by effectively buying itself out of the old social housing system with one substantial upfront payment, to be funded by borrowing.
The change in the management of housing stock by local authorities meant £16.3million could be pumped into new housing projects in Uttlesford up to 2017.
Officers put together a 30-year business plan to pay off the debt from year six onwards, freeing up cash to spend on addressing the current housing shortage.
There are now in excess of 1,700 people on the council’s housing waiting list.
Similar development schemes have been completed in Stansted Mountfitchet, with eight new houses, nine bungalows and 12 flats in Mead Court, and Leaden Roding – a proposal which saw five bungalows built in place of four garages.
Speaking at the cabinet meeting, Cllr Redfern told members: “I’m delighted to be back here again with another proposed site for development of our own council housing.
“The site encompasses 38 garages, 21 of which are not used. The favoured scheme is to build six new homes – four two bedroom properties and two on-bed homes.
“It is expected to cost about £697,000 and we would like to receive approval to take this scheme to planning.”