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Council's pledge to build more new homes
12:00pm Sunday 23rd September 2012 in News
THURROCK Council has pledged to build 1000 new homes in the borough over the next five years.
Changes to the way council’s are able to manage income and expenditure on their housing stock have enabled Thurrock Council to begin planning the construction of “exciting” and “innovative” homes.
The Housing Revenue Account system has undergone reform in the last 12 months, allowing councils to spend any money they make on housing as they wish.
Cllr Val Morris-Cook, the council’s cabinet member for housing said that this means the council can finally start doing something to help the 3000 people on the council’s housing waiting list.
Speaking at last week’s cabinet meeting, she said: ““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.”
She added that her and Barbara Brownlee, the council’s director of housing, have charged arhictects with designing homes that will be exciting and innovative, similar to projects taking place in neighbouring authorities.
Referring to a report that outlined the stages necessary in building 200 homes a year from 2013, which was agreed by the cabinet, Cllr Morris-Cook added: “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!”
Cllr Morris-Cook also revealed at the cabinet meeting last Wednesday evening, that the council are in the process of developing a policy called “Live rent free for a year”, aimed at encouraging residents to downsize, freeing up larger, three-bedroom homes for families that need them.
Cllr Morris-Cook said that a report on this was due to go to cabinet in November.