Council’s strategy to boost supply of affordable homes

The county council has set out its 2014 policy statement for affordable housing, with the goal of increasing the supply being a strategic priority of the current Labour administration.

The document, which went before the council’s policy board on Tuesday, details the aims of the council in terms of affordable housing and how it intends to increase the supply.

It comes as the council has started to build its own houses for the first time since the 1970s. A scheme for Amble was approved last month as part of phase one, which features a number of locations, the majority being in the north of the county.

The document lists five main ways in which the county council is working to boost the supply of homes in Northumberland, with the first being the council building its own homes.

Funding and borrowing from various sources, including the Housing Revenue Account (the fund made up largely from rents and service charges), will be used for an investment of around £43million in homes that are designed to be affordable in perpetuity for local residents.

The other goals are supporting registered providers, securing sufficient affordable homes through legal agreements with developers (the core strategy suggests a level of 30 per cent affordable housing), supporting community-led housing initiatives and supporting the agenda through better data and a new team of affordable-housing officers.

There is currently a backlog of affordable housing in Northumberland of 2,135 homes, based on the 2012 county-wide independent housing needs assessment.

Affordable housing is defined as either social housing offered by registered providers, affordable rent (properties let at up to a maximum of 80 per cent of market rents) or low-cost home ownership options (such as shared ownership).