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Swale council proposes new housing company

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Swale Borough Council is proposing to set up a housing company to help deliver affordable homes for local people.

A report going to cabinet on Wednesday, 28 October proposes setting up a local company to increase the supply of affordable homes in the borough, without placing a financial burden on the council.

If approved, council-owned land at the old bus depot in East Street Sittingbourne, Fountain Street and Cockleshell Walk car park would be transferred to the company to provide around 139 new properties, in exchange for an equity share in the company.

Ben J Martin, cabinet member for housing at the council, said:

“The prospect of setting up of a housing company is a key indicator of the high priority we place on delivering decent affordable homes residents need, and, if approved, will enable us to intervene directly in the local housing market.

“It would also give us control of the density, location, environmental standards and management of any scheme, so we won’t be at the mercy of developers trying to maximise profit.

“By owning equity shares in the company, we can get an income stream on assets that should go up in value over time, which reduces the financial risk to the council.

“We estimate build costs, energy efficiency and lifecycle costs of developing, managing and maintaining the initially planned 139 properties to be up to £23 million, which we would initially pay for through 50-year loans to the company.

“If approved, the company will enable us to build additional affordable housing, on top of the ones provided through the planning system, and housing associations utilising their homes England grant money in Swale.

“This would be a real ray of hope for local people who are in need of local, affordable housing.”

Cllr Ghlin Whelan, deputy cabinet member for housing at the council, said:

“This is an exciting opportunity for us to provide the affordable housing the borough so desperately needs.

“Social housing is a nationwide issue and councils are looking for ways to meet the demand without being at the mercy of large developers.

“The number of people needing local, affordable housing is only rising, and it’s our duty to do what we can to meet that need.”

The full report can be viewed here.


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