First new council houses for 24 years in Flintshire


Robert Doman

FLINTSHIRE Council is to build its first new council houses in 24 years to help deal with a “desperate” need for social housing.

The authority has announced plans to build 100 new homes across the county as a housing subsidy system, which bosses said was limiting the council’s ability to build homes, came to an end.

Council chiefs had already announced a £100 million scheme to upgrade its existing housing stock and have revealed new council house developments are being considered at locations throughout Flintshire but yet to be confirmed.

The last council home built in the county was in 1990. The 100 new homes are to be constructed over the next six years in a move described by council leader Cllr Aaron Shotton as the “realisation of a vision” to see more houses built by the authority.

Proposals to end the Welsh housing revenue account subsidy system have prompted the move, which the council said led to many local authorities being in negative subsidy, offering no incentives to build new properties.

Thousands of individuals and families in Flintshire are waiting for council properties. The waiting list totals 3,319. In addition, 637 council tenants have requested moves to other council properties.

As of 2013, the council owned 7,417 homes and 1,766 garages, as well as 94 homes in which it has a leasehold interest. Currently there are 137 council properties which are empty.

Cllr Shotton said: “We are close to realising our vision to start building council houses once again and providing residents with new council homes for the 21st century. This will also help the council meet the increasing need for social housing in the county.

“A programme of building council houses in Flintshire is long overdue and I am proud Flintshire Council is leading the way in North Wales by investing in our housing stock, benefiting current tenants and generations to come.

“This is a very exciting time for the council and all its tenants.”

A total of £103m will be spent on existing council homes by 2020, including schemes designed to reach the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS) for kitchens, heating systems and smoke detectors.

About 1,300 homes are expected to have WHQS standard bathrooms. But the developments will help meet demand for council houses.

Cllr Ron Hampson, chairman of the council’s housing overview and scrutiny committee, said Flintshire had “a tremendous waiting list” for council properties.

Last August he suggested turning council-owned garage sites into homes to meet the need.

Speaking after the announcement, he said: “It is really good news. New council homes are desperately needed.”

Flintshire Council has yet to confirm which areas are being earmarked for new builds.

But Cllr Helen Brown, cabinet member for housing, said: “There hasn’t been a new council house built in Flintshire since the early ‘90s and I’m looking forward to seeing plans for the new homes.”

“Tenants will benefit from some fantastic developments and these plans just reaffirm our commitment as a council to meet the affordable housing needs of local residents.”

See full story in the Leader

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