THURROCK’S leading housing councillor has detailed some of the work being done to “support people and families get into their own home”, but says she fears for the future.
Cllr Lynn Worrall was speaking at Wednesday (9 March) evening’s meeting of the council’s cabinet where she said: “The housing team has worked incredibly hard over the past few years finding new and innovative ways of building affordable homes, whether that’s for the private market through Gloriana, or through the Housing Revenue Account.
“Those plans are coming to fruition now, but when we have also promised our current tenants a New Deal, top-quality transformed homes and we have to make a choice between one or the other, what are we to do?”
She said the council could not slow down the Transforming Homes programme any further and “it is our exciting homes-building plans which are under threat”.
The council will “continue with those we have started and those we have funding in place for, but we will have to look very hard at whether we will be able to carry on beyond that”, blaming the “one per cent cut in rents, the cut which will save some tenants a few pence a week, yet will save the government hundreds of thousands next year and millions in the years to come”.
But, she said: “Our proactive approach has seen us gain recognition as a leader in the sector and has been instrumental in securing Housing Zone status and greater flexibility in respect of the HRA borrowing cap.
“Our first schemes are now coming to completion, 53 homes at the Echoes on Seabrooke Rise and a further 25 homes for those aged 60 or over, or 55-plus with a disability at Bruyn’s Court in South Ockendon. A further 12 homes are well advanced at Bracelet Close in Corringham.
“We are also making good progress with the second wave of schemes including proposals for the former Topps Club site in Grays and Claudian Way in Chadwell St Mary – both expected to go to the Planning Committee soon and delivering a further 82 affordable homes.”
She added: “We want to help as many local people as we can, and that means using our limited resources in the most effective way. We still have Gloriana and I expect more of the burden to fall on the wholly owned company in the years to come, but as we have recently secured nearly Â£Â¾ million through the Housing Zone programme, we will be using this to develop this programme in more detail.
“It is early days and any work will be the subject of more detailed reports in the future, however this is an opportunity to make sure people living on our estates are not left behind by the growth going on around them and that they see a benefit from the investment being made elsewhere.”