Council sets out ambitious plans to tackle housing

The new county council administration has unveiled its ambitious plans for housing across Northumberland for the next five years.

A draft version for consultation of A Housing Stategy for Northumberland – 2013-2018 has been released.

According to the document, the main aim is to ensure that: “The population of Northumberland has access to a home that is safe, warm and affordable, and that help and support is available to those who are unable to meet their own housing need.”

It also refers to a number of factors that affect the context of housing in Northumberland.

One is that the county’s population of 312,000 is expected to rise to 326,000 by 2035, with the largest increase set to be in the over-65 age group.

There are also increasing numbers of people in housing need, issues of affordability and varying quality standards.

The report states: “The overall house-price-to-earnings ratio in Northumberland is 6:1 and when looking at the lower house prices and lower earnings, it is still 5:1.

“This means that home ownership is beyond the reach of many people, as, to obtain a mortgage, households are required to have a higher level of deposit before they will be accepted by a lender.”

Therefore, the report sets out three priorities for housing to deliver over the next five years, with the first being affordable and quality housing.

There is a backlog of affordable housing and it has been evidenced that 242 new affordable homes are needed for the next 10 years to deal with this.

There are almost 10,000 people on the housing-allocation register with 6,000 of them assessed as having some form of housing need. At the moment, around 1,800 social housing properties are allocated annually, so the need for affordable housing is clear.

The second priority is healthy people, which groups together a range of projects, services and pieces of work to ensure that those who require it receive housing-related support.

Sustainable economies and communities is the final priority, with the county council committed to ensuring the county is a prosperous place for residents and businesses.