£10m investment ‘a real start’ in bid to provide 1,000 affordable homes to rent in Northumberland

Northumberland’s council leader has described a £10million investment as ‘a real start’ towards the pledge to provide 1,000 additional homes for affordable rent.

By Ben O'Connell
Saturday, 14th December 2019, 8:00 am
Updated Thursday, 12th March 2020, 1:10 pm
Northumberland County Council's HQ in Morpeth.
Northumberland County Council's HQ in Morpeth.

However, only one of the five projects approved by the authority’s administration this week is to build new homes, the other four involve the purchase of properties which are just proposals at this stage.

Back in May, Northumberland County Council announced a goal of delivering 1,000 new council-owned homes over the next three years – later changed to four years – as part of its draft housing strategy.

When the strategy was finalised and signed off in August, the pledge had changed slightly with the document itself saying: ‘We will seek to facilitate up to 1,000 new homes for rent, including new council housing.’

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In October, the Labour opposition said it was ‘increasingly concerned’ by the lack of progress, although the Conservative leadership offered assurances that there were a number of potential developments in the pipeline, but that no announcements could be made due to ongoing negotiations.

At its meeting on Tuesday (December 10), the council’s cabinet approved £10.2million from the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) for five projects, totalling 67 properties in Blyth, Cramlington, New Hartley, Seghill and Wooler.

The report explained that all will be retained and managed within the HRA and let at affordable rent levels.

Council leader Peter Jackson said: “There are all in areas where we have proven housing need for homes to rent.

“These will be the first of many and we look forward to the programme making a difference to people all across the county.”

Coun Glen Sanderson added: “It’s something we feel strongly about and the proof is in the pudding, we are putting our money where our mouth is.”

The project in Blyth, at Lyndon Walk, involves the construction of 13 bungalows for people living with dementia, to be linked to the existing in-house residential service on the site at Tynedale House.

But the other four involve buying the affordable units which will form part of proposed schemes by Ascent Homes, the house-building arm of the council-owned development company Advance Northumberland.

This is made up of 20 from a proposed development at Front Street, Seghill; 17 from a scheme behind Percy Street/Hasting Street, Klondyke, Cramlington; 20 near Mountford Road/Lysdon Avenue, New Hartley; and seven at Wooler – the only proposal to benefit from planning permission.