COUNCIL houses could be built again in a bid to tackle Warwick district’s desperate shortage of affordable homes.
The introduction of Right to Buy legislation coupled with housing associations starting to build affordable homes in the 1980s led to a dramatic decline in the overall number of council homes.
But with more and more people struggling to get on the housing ladder, many are turning to affordable homes as a means of securing a property.
Of the estimated 58,700 homes in Warwick district, around ten per cent – approximately 5,300 – are council-owned while roughly five per cent – or 2,500 – belong to housing associations.
And with more than 3,600 people currently on the housing list – half of whom are classed as being ‘in housing need’ for reasons including being homeless, living in unsatisfactory or overcrowded accommodation, and suffering with housing-related social or health issues, the problem continues to worsen.
Warwick District Council’s deputy chief executive, Andrew Jones, believes the location and picturesque surroundings have led to an increase in the district’s population, and to a greater need for affordable homes.
He told The Observer: “Warwick district is a beautiful part of the country. This puts pressure on existing housing stock and it’s difficult for the industry to respond quickly because building takes time and is dependent on land availability, finance and market conditions.
“House prices and rents have also risen substantially, which means private sector accommodation is out of reach for lower-paid people and this pushes up affordable housing demand.”
Over the past few years, the council has been working in partnership with Waterloo Housing Group to develop more affordable housing sites and there are currently 382 affordable homes being built for housing associations in the district.
But following government changes to the housing finance system, there is now the possibility the council could generate enough money to begin building houses once again, which Mr Jones believes would be a step in the right direction.
He added: “The need for more affordable housing has been an issue in Warwick district for many years but in addressing that need, the council has to consider the importance of protecting historic assets and the natural environment of the district as well as ensuring there is adequate infrastructure and a vibrant local economy to support population growth.
“The prospect of the council becoming a provider of new affordable housing again is a real and welcome opportunity that will complement the existing partnerships, which will continue.
“Looking forward, the council is currently going through the process of adopting a new Local Plan, which makes provision for 12,860 new homes.
“Approximately 40 per cent of the dwellings on these sites will need to be affordable housing and this will provide a framework within which housing, infrastructure and services can be delivered to meet the district’s housing needs.”