Friday, January 27, 2023

Thurrock councillors expected to back house building programme that could result in 500 new council homes

By Local Democracy Reporter
Steve Shaw

PLANS to build hundreds of new council homes in Thurrock over the next ten years are could be given the go-ahead following a discussion next week.

Council bosses met in March to discuss the possibility of building the 500 new council homes by 2029 but agreed that members of the housing committee should be consulted first.

Thurrock Council Offices

That committee is due to meet next week and is expected to back the ambitious house building programme, which will help to make a dent in the borough’s growing housing waiting list.

If it is given the go-ahead, the council aims to finance the house building through a housing revenue and expenditure account known as the Housing Revenue Account (HRA).

Last year the Government removed a cap on the HRA that limited the amount of money local authorities could borrow to build new council homes in an effort to boost the number being built.

The money borrowed for building would be repaid through rental income and the homes would also be built on council-owned land to avoid additional costs.

The council estimates each property – ranging between one, two and three-bedrooms – would cost £251,000 to build which would allow them to be priced at around 57 per cent of the current market rent, the equivalent of around £139 per week.

While the council’s plan primarily focuses on building new homes, they have not ruled out the possibility that some of the 500 could be obtained by purchasing previously privately-owned properties and converting them.

A council report published in March notes that if the house building programme was to be rejected the council’s other option would be to rely on the private sector to deliver ‘affordable’ homes but these may be priced significantly higher than council homes.

Thurrock is facing an urgent need for housing due to a housing wait list of 5,095 people.

This number dropped from 9,140 last year when the council made a controversial decision to no longer accept applications from people “adequately houses”. This includes young people on low income and living with parents and older people looking to move to sheltered housing.

The council has acknowledged that they need between 6,000 and 10,000 extra affordable homes over the next 20 years.



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