THURROCK COUNCIL committed itself to building 200 new homes a year at Wednesday (12 September) evening’s meeting of the cabinet.
But not just any old houses! Cllr Val Morris-Cook, portfolio holder for housing, said: “Changes to the way the government claws back cash from the Housing Revenue Account means that we can now start building homes again.
“Next week we will be officially opening the new homes at Oxwich Close in Corringham. They are specially designed to be energy efficient, Secure by Design, and to meet the national Quality Design Standard as well as several of the Build for Life criteria. This reaches Level 4 in the code for sustainable housing.
“I want our future new homes to reach level five where-ever possible.”
Cllr Morris-Cook added: “There are very nearly 3,000 people on our waiting list and at last we can start doing something new to help them.
“I want the council to take the lead, but to work with developers so we don’t create estates where all the homes are the same. I want council houses and council flats alongside other homes owned by independent private and social landlords and — most importantly — new opportunities for owner-occupiers, especially first-time buyers standing.
“Two hundred homes a year doesn’t sound much when placed against a 3,000 strong waiting list, but that’s just our contribution, our seeding of the market, our showing enough confidence to get developers interested.
“We all know the private housing market has stalled, not just here but across the country and we are looking at ways to get the engine going again.
“The site referred to in the report — Howard Road on Chafford Hundred near Sainsbury’s — gives us the chance to buy and complete the scheme. It is currently half built and a blot on the landscape which is only falling into disrepair.
“It is for 140 units, a third 1 bedroomed flats, and only 16 houses of which 56 per cent was always earmarked as affordable. This is seen as a sensible for the area and a developer contribution for education facilities is part of the permission.”
She said: “This report is just a start. It sets out how we see the road ahead and what has to be done, but those of you who know me know I’m not a patient person. I want to see action now and I will!”