£400,000 approved to buy housing in Wooler to create affordable homes

A view of Wooler
 Picture by Jane ColtmanA view of Wooler
 Picture by Jane Coltman
A view of Wooler Picture by Jane Coltman
Councillors have agreed to spend almost £400,000 on four properties in a north Northumberland village to be let as affordable homes.

At its meeting on Tuesday, January 12, Northumberland County Council’s decision-making cabinet signed off on the £388,800 acquisition of four two-bedroom houses at Wooler, as part of the authority’s ongoing affordable housing programme.

In December 2019, the cabinet agreed the purchase of seven two-bedroom bungalows for rental from Advance Northumberland – the council’s development company – at its Kingsmead development, next to Wooler Water.

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The remaining affordable homes on the site were originally intended to be sold by Advance at discounted market value, but it has now been decided to provide more rental properties.

The report to councillors stated: ‘There are limited opportunities within Wooler for further development in central locations, which will become an issue for the ageing population.’

The £388,800 investment, added to the original expenditure of £680,400 for the bungalows, takes the overall cost of the scheme to £1.07million, to come from the £16.6million housing allocation in the 2021-22 capital programme.

This project requires a planning variation, but Advance will progress this now that the proposal has been approved.

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Cllr John Riddle, the cabinet member for housing, said: “This is about the right homes in the right place. There’s a proven need here and it adds to our aspiration to increase the supply of affordable rental accommodation.”

Cllr Nick Oliver added: “It’s really good to see this being done in a rural area. We must make sure we have a good affordable housing provision in our rural areas as well as obviously in our more urban areas.”

In May 2019, the council announced a goal of delivering 1,000 new council-owned homes over the next three years as part of its draft housing strategy.

But when the strategy was finalised and signed off in August that year, the pledge was watered down slightly in the council’s statement to ‘an ambitious target to see up to 1,000 new affordable homes built in the county’.

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The cabinet also agreed that the strategy should run over four years, up to 2022, following a request from some members of the scrutiny committee that looked at the strategy.

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