Council to spend £1 billion on Stevenage social housing in major 30-year investment plan
- Credit: Archant
Stevenage Borough Council has announced it will invest more than £1 billion in building or improving council housing in Stevenage over the next 30 years.
At a time when most councils have sold off their housing stock to private associations, the council says it shows the importance it places on providing homes for Stevenage people as efficiently as possible.
The plan called Our Homes Our Future was first announced in 2014 but has been updated to take account of a government cut in property rents which meant the council had to re-examine the funding for the project.
The council will now invest £448 million in building 2000 new council homes in the town over the next 30 years.
A further £660m will be spent on improving the current stock so that homes are more sustainable, safer and more comfortable.
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Council leader Sharon Taylor, said: “It’s great news we’re able to continue to prioritise our investment in housing.
“We’re already seeing the impact of recent housing projects at Archer Road, and the March Hare and Twin Foxes pub sites.
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“We know the need for housing is desperate in Stevenage with a 47 per cent increase in homelessness in the past year and growing demand for our emergency housing.
“Good quality housing can have such a great impact on children growing up, and families, and good quality social housing is a very good start on the housing ladder for young people.”
The council will also invest in improving housing for older people, to meet the needs of the town’s ageing population.
At least 300 of the new council houses will be built by 2021.
Work will also be done which aims to improve the purpose-built blocks of flats in the town and insulate properties, making them more energy-efficient and reducing residents’ fuel bills.
Councillor James Fraser, leader of the Conservative opposition group on the council, said he “welcomes anything that helps with housing provision for people in the town”, but added he would investigate the figures to see if the spending is good value for money.
“Whether spending £1b is sustainable or desirable is something I will need to look at,” he said.
“My personal bugbear with public finance is the amount of waste that tends to go behind it and we will want to examine the figures and see more detail on how it will work.”
He said that as a Conservative he is in favour of the private sector rather than council backed schemes, but that he recognises the need for social housing stock at a local level.
The council has shown its commitment to new social housing with house building projects underway for homes at Archer Road, the former Twin Foxes pub in Rockingham Way and Kilner Close.
It has also bought 28 flats and houses on the open market to add to its stock of 8,000 council houses.
It is also working with private developers to bring new flats to town centre areas like Park Place and Southgate House and new housing developments to the south, west and north of town.