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Council provides update on its ambitious affordable housing plan

Published 6 July 2021
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Wiltshire Council has provided an update on its 10-year plan to build 1,000 new affordable homes, and seeks to start consultation to improve its sheltered housing. 

The council will ensure that as many of these new homes as possible will be rented out at social rents (a level below rents in the private rental sector) to ensure affordable housing for the most vulnerable. 

The programme is based on a range of delivery approaches:
•    Develop council owned land secured via planning permissions for the delivery of social rented and shared ownership housing.
•    Procure affordable housing offered by developers to discharge their affordable housing obligation as required by a section 106 planning agreement.
•    Re-purchasing existing properties either previously sold under Right to Buy or from the market where an affordable need has been identified.

A report will be presented at the council's cabinet meeting on 13 July, which details progress made in Phase 2 of the programme, as well as looking ahead to what else is to come as part of Phase 3, which began last year. 

The completed Phase 1 of the programme provided 150 new homes at affordable rent levels, with Phase 2 and beyond focused on delivering social rent properties. 

Phase 2 consisted predominantly of property purchases of homes previously sold under Right to Buy, which saw a total of 12 purchased. Three shared ownership properties were also purchased, with the only new build of the phase taking place at a former youth centre in Salisbury on New Zealand Avenue, with work due to start in Summer 2021. In total, the Phase 2 currently projects to cost around £5.7m to provide 28 units of affordable homes. 

The first part of Phase 3, which started in April 2020, will provide 91 homes at a cost of just under £22m - a combination of new builds and units purchased. The new build homes will be developed through modern methods of construction (MMC) at zero carbon standards. To meet the higher environmental standards and achieving zero carbon plus creating homes that are bigger, at their meeting cabinet are being asked to approve a re-allocation of money to deliver this phase of the programme, with around £3m required to meet the higher standards. This re-allocation is not seeking additional funds for the overall programme.

The second part of Phase 3 is in its early stages, and assuming all bids for funding and s106 units provide successful, this part of the programme will consist of 98 units at a budget of just over £20m, with cabinet also being asked to re-allocate budget to meet increased costs.

Looking ahead to the next parts of Phase 3 (Phases 3.3 and 3.4), cabinet is being asked to allocate £20m per phase for the delivery of 100 homes in each but, depending on the opportunities available, the number of homes delivered and funding required should be flexible. 

Phase 1 of the programme saw the development of two new enhanced sheltered housing facilities, Needham House Devizes and Evergreen Court Amesbury, which have been well received by residents. As a result of providing these high-quality facilities, the council is keen to look at its existing historic sheltered housing schemes and look to bring them up to a similar standard. Eight of those schemes have been identified for appropriate investment to improve the homes for the residents. For the remainder, residents will be involved in a consultation exercise and invited to comment on options and subsequently involved in decisions on designs and scheme finishes.

A number of the sites identified in Phase 3.3 and 3.4 could also offer the opportunities to develop some more enhanced sheltered housing within Salisbury where schemes will offer an array of facilities on-site.

Cllr Phil Alford, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: "This exciting programme is creating high quality affordable housing to those who need it most. It's an ambitious programme but one we're determined to deliver. 

"Having secure, safe and affordable homes has positive effects right through the lives of those who live in them and we're committed to supporting as many people as we can. 

"I look forward to updating my colleagues of the programme's progress as well as discuss and agree the next steps."

The full agenda for the cabinet meeting can be found here (opens new window)

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