Plans for Wealden District Council to add 214 new, affordable homes to its stock over the next four years have cleared a major hurdle.
The scheme, announced in September, was in jeopardy because of central government rules on borrowing and council house sales.
Now Whitehall has given the council certainty so that it can “address the problems of the local housing market”.
The lack of affordable housing in Uckfield and across the wider Wealden area has been a problem for many years.
The district council lists improving access to affordable homes for local people as one of its priorities.
District council cabinet member, Cllr Graham Wells, said the government decision was good news.
“We can now play our part in meeting the national need for new homes which has been estimated at 300,000 a year,” he said.
In its recent Housing Green Paper, the Government announced that it would not expect local authorities to sell off their high value council houses to fund the provision of right-to-buy for housing associations.
The government has also announced the removal of a debt cap on local authority housing budgets which limited how much they could borrow to build affordable homes locally.
Councils can now set their own prudent limit for borrowing.
For Wealden, this will be £95 million, an increase of £23.3 million on the previous limit.
These announcements have enabled Wealden to increase spending on its New Build council housing investment programme over the next five years, including the use of £4.9 million from housing revenue account balances.
As well as building new council homes, Wealden’s housing revenue account budget also seeks to:
- Use opportunities to buy “off the peg” affordable homes from developers where appropriate.
- Maintain the high quality of its current stock of 3,000 council homes.
- Ensure all tenants receive this coming year’s 1% rent reduction in line with Government policy.
*Cabinet’s proposals for Wealden’s Housing Revenue Account budget will now go out for consultation with stakeholders including WRAG, the Wealden Residents Action Group.
Old Hop Gardens at Hailsham
The Old Hop Gardens (formerly Elizabeth Court) at Hailsham boasts a mix of general needs houses and flats in a contemporary design.
The scheme, completed earlier this year, cost £2.4million.
It has 17 quality affordable homes made up of 9 one-bedroom flats, 3 two-bedroom flats and 5 two-bedroom houses. Parking is provided along with landscaped communal gardens.