Following the publication of the Government’s Housing White Paper “Fixing our broken housing market”, Northumberland County Council has announced how it plans to address housing issues in the county.
The paper, setting out four overarching themes; Planning the right homes in the right places; Building homes faster; Diversifying the market; and Helping people now, places further pressure on local authorities to increase the number of homes being built in their area, and builds upon the previous commitment to build an extra one million homes by 2020.
The council is now looking at a number of different ways to meet the increasing demand for housing across the county.
In the past three years, across Northumberland there has been in excess of £30m invested in affordable homes. The council has exceeded its target of providing 1,000 new homes through its housing management team, Homes for Northumberland and in partnership with developers, such as Arch.
However, as a result of the government demanding all local councils to cut their housing rents by 1% for the next four years, it is unlikely that council-led building schemes of this scale will be seen in the future.
With more than 8,000 people on the council’s housing register the council recognises the need to continue to offer a range of housing options. This means working with developers, such as Arch, and attracting private developers to build in the county, to meet the need for affordable homes as well as for sale and private rent properties.
A £1.3m Community Housing Fund will also be used to develop more community-led housing projects, to allow local people to remain in the area they grew up.
Empty homes will also be under the spotlight as the council works to bring 30 properties back into use, using a £750,000 grant from the Homes and Communities Agency.
Allan Hepple, cabinet member for housing at the council, said: “Whilst we welcome the focus the government’s white paper has placed on housing, as a council our ability to build affordable homes has been severely restricted. Further proposals, such as expanding right to buy, may see the loss, or further impact upon the building of affordable homes. It is extremely disappointing that the government hasn’t given more emphasis on building much needed social homes.
“However, we still acknowledge the need for homes in the community, for the community. We are now reliant on developers such as Arch to come forward with planning applications to meet the shortfall.
“All our residents deserve a place they can call home, in the area that they grew up in.”