Affordable home-building ahead of target in Northumberland

Coun Robert Arckless, ward member for Amble, Coun Allan Hepple, Northumberland County Council's policy board member for housing, and David Leightly, site manager for Galliford Try Partnerships North at the site of new affordable homes at Dandsfield Square in Amble.
Coun Robert Arckless, ward member for Amble, Coun Allan Hepple, Northumberland County Council's policy board member for housing, and David Leightly, site manager for Galliford Try Partnerships North at the site of new affordable homes at Dandsfield Square in Amble.

Northumberland is ahead of its target for delivering new affordable homes in the county, the local authority has revealed.

Recent figures have shown that by March this year, nearly 65 per of the council’s target of new affordable homes will have been completed. Northumberland County Council set a target for 1,000 new affordable homes by 2017, and current projections show that halfway through this period (by March 31 this year), 641 will have been built.

With more than 8,500 people on the county’s housing register, and nearly half of these assessed as having some form of housing need, building more affordable homes is a key priority for the council. It works to achieve this by building itself; by enabling registered housing companies to build new homes; by negotiating with housing developers to provide affordable homes under section 106 agreements; and also securing funding through section 106 agreements to build affordable homes elsewhere in the area.

The council has placed a strong emphasis on building new council homes itself, and by the end of March will have completed 215 new properties, with a further 48 underway or due to start, and other schemes in development. This includes sites in north Northumberland at Amble, Embleton and Shilbottle.

The council is also being proactive in looking at different funding models and bidding for national funding opportunities, and has attracted nearly £9million of increased housing revenue account borrowing approval. This will fund around 100 further homes, with sites being considered at Alnwick, Blyth, Cramlington and Prudhoe.

Coun Allan Hepple, policy board member responsible for housing, planning and regeneration at the council, said: “I am absolutely delighted to see that both the council and its housing association partners are delivering so well against our target for new affordable homes. What’s especially pleasing is the fact homes are being built across Northumberland – from Blyth to Bellingham and Stocksfield to Seahouses.

“This programme will also generate over £100million worth of inward investment in the building trade and I am sure that this will help local people get additional skills and gain access to employment. We want everyone to have access to a home that is safe, warm, and affordable, and as well as building ourselves we will continue to work with partners to explore all opportunities to develop new homes.”

A number of possible sites have been identified across the county and these are subject to detailed feasibility work before consultation takes place and relevant permissions such as planning are sought. Projections for the next two years show that the total number of affordable homes that will be built over the four-year period is 1,165.

The council is also working with Arch, the Northumberland Development Company, to maximise the number of rented homes that are accessible to local people across Northumberland. Over the four-year period, Arch will have increased its market rented properties in the county by 416.