16th Sep, 2019

Council chiefs deny stalling over building of council homes in Warwick district

Ian Hughes 19th Mar, 2018

COUNCIL chiefs have rejected accusations they are stalling over the building of new council homes in Warwick district.

Labour council members are angry after the Conservative-run authority voted down a proposal to allocate cash specifically to build new council housing next year.

Labour leader Coun Colin Quinney said: “This council has built no houses or flats for social rent this century.

“The government’s Right to Buy scheme is slowly eroding our housing stock. Our council is sitting on £36million in reserves allocated for housing and is not spending where it is needed to meet local needs.

“It’s scandalous that we have over 2400 on our housing waiting list, huge hidden problems of homelessness and affordablity for the most vulnerable in this district – and the administration does nothing.”

Labour also highlighted the lack of any affordable or social housing included at either Riverside House or Covent Garden car park as part of the council’s planned new headquarters.

But district housing spokesman Coun Peter Phillips said available land not money was the problem.

He told The Observer: “As a council we are committed to securing more affordable housing and have been successfully doing this with 1,000 new affordable homes built in the last four years. Our success is well illustrated by the reduction in the council housing waiting list from around 3,600 people to 2,400 people over the last two years.

“Our opponents have a touching faith that because money is included in a budget there’s a magic wand and the land suddenly appears. Our issue isn’t funding. It’s that there is very limited land that the council owns that can be developed on. Putting money into the budget is merely virtue signalling by Labour, but doesn’t actually result in a single extra home being built.

“Instead we are concentrating on actually building affordable housing. Last year we celebrated the opening of Sayer Court, our stunning flagship council housing development in Leamington, with 76 apartments, communal gardens and five bungalows specifically designed to meet the needs of disabled people.

And Coun Phillips said the authority continued to work with partners to provide more affordable homes.

He added: “In the last financial year 284 new affordable homes were completed, followed by 240 more in the first nine months of 2017/18. We are currently on site with two initiatives in partnership with W2, our joint venture with Waterloo Housing, to develop 212 new homes on Station Approach in Leamington, 160 of which will be affordable, and a further 39 affordable homes on the site of the former print works in Theatre Street, Warwick.

“And in the not too distant future, we are working in conjunction with Waterloo Housing to enable them to build around 375 homes on Europa Way near the new Leamington Football Club stadium of which 40 per cent will be affordable.”

“In addition, I am keen to explore all options to buy land, build new homes, redevelop disused garage sites, buy back ex-council properties and acquire homes that will help us to meet specific housing needs of people living in our district.”

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