Thursday, November 1, 2012
Deal with developer could be the way ahead for future affordable housing projects in East Devon
Council chiefs have bagged a bargain to provide 11 new homes for rent at Axminster
They paid just £850,000 for the two-bedroom houses, at Morton Way, after developers Betterment Homes failed to find buyers for them on the open market.
Now the properties are being offered to local families at just £120 a week - well below market rates.
The new way in which East Devon District Council is able to fund its housing service made it possible for it to buy the homes directly from the builders - the first time this has been done in over a decade.
Officials say if they cannot build their own council houses then schemes like this could be the way to meet the growing need for affordable homes.
The Axminster houses are all two-bedroom properties with gardens and parking. Some have fine rural views. Councillors say they will help to deliver vital low cost housing with preference going to people with a local connection to Axminster.
Head of Housing John Golding said they were delighted at what they paid for the homes.
“It’s a great deal - we got the right price at the right time,” he said.
“This initiative approach builds on the recent successful completion of 17 new council homes in East Devon and clearly demonstrates our appetite to continue to develop and purchase further new properties to add to the council’s existing housing stock.
“Working together with other housing providers, developers and land owners, a total of 148 new affordable homes were built in the East Devon area in the year to March 31. This was an impressive achievement thought to be the highest number of affordable homes to be delivered in decades. The purchase of these 11 new homes for local people builds on this success and will go towards meeting our target to deliver over 100 new homes again this year, a target we can only meet by working with other housing providers in the district.”
Councillor Jill Elson, the sustainable homes and communities spokeswoman said: “The purchase of these 11 new homes is a significant achievement and reflects the hard work and commitment of all involved. We wish to provide more affordable homes, both for rent and shared ownership, for those in need.
“We are aware of the problems around high property prices, lenders asking for substantial monies for a deposit and living in a low wage economy. It is making it very difficult for people to buy a home, especially our young people – many having to rely on the ‘bank of mum and dad’ or their grandparents.
“We will continue to work hard to achieve our target of 100 new affordable homes a year. Providing mope affordable homes remain a priority for the council.”
Axminster district councillor Douglas Hull welcomed the latest initiative to provide affordable homes in the town.
He told The Herald: “This was an excellent deal struck by East Devon District Council. It will provide housing for a number of families on the waiting list and is the way forward. If we can’t build our own council houses we can look seriously at buying properties from developers but we do need to make sure they are up to the standard we required.”