TAMWORTH Borough Council’s housing stock is being boosted by more than 40 new homes which have been built, or are in the process of being bought, as part of an ongoing commitment to tackle the borough’s need for more affordable homes.
A total of 19 new homes have been built by the council in the latest phase of a project to redevelop former garages sites across the town. Of these, four homes have now been allocated to residents on the housing register and the remaining 15 are being handed over in the coming weeks.
These modern new homes have been constructed to a high standard by MJ Fitzpatrick, in partnership with Tamworth Borough Council staff and Waterloo Housing Group. This phase follows the development of 54 affordable homes which were built on former garages sites between 2011 and 2015 in partnership with housing associations.
As well as building its own homes, Tamworth Borough Council has also been buying new-build properties on private developments across the town, which have to include a percentage of affordable housing.
As a result of this new approach:
- Eight homes have been purchased at Swallowhirst, Freasley Lane, which have already been allocated to people who need them
- Six homes have been bought at Saxon Manor in Amington, which will be handed over in the new year
- Cabinet members have just approved the acquisition of another eight homes on a new development off School Lane in Dosthill
The council is also currently undertaking its largest house-building regeneration project for decades with the development of 141 modern new homes in place of 136 outdated properties on housing estates in Tinkers Green and the Kerria Centre.
Cllr Steve Claymore, Cabinet member for Regeneration, said: “Every property we build or acquire means a new home for an individual, couple or family and we are always looking at various ways that this can be achieved for the best.
“Building our own homes and buying from private developers enables us to strengthen and enhance the council’s housing portfolio with new, modern homes that are fit for the 21st century.
“The redevelopment of Tinkers Green and the Kerria Centre is the biggest council housing programme in Tamworth for a generation and is a much-needed investment, both in the supply of council housing and in those local areas.
“Buying homes from private developers is a new approach that represents good value for money and is another way of acquiring new homes that we directly own and manage. It has worked well so far and we will continue to explore opportunities on sites in Tamworth where this may be viable.”
The creation of more affordable homes is part of an overall review of the council’s housing strategy ahead of changing legislation which comes into effect as part of the Homeless Reduction Act in April 2018.
This includes a review of the temporary accommodation available to homeless people with a view to increasing the options on offer while minimising the use of Bed and Breakfast where possible.
Councillors have approved the launch of a 12-month pilot scheme in which five council houses (depending on availability at any given time) will be used as temporary accommodation for homeless applicants, while a more permanent solution is found. This is designed to add to the range of comprehensive measures already in place to help prevent or relieve homelessness. Properties will vary depending on availability and homes will not be left empty for the purposes of the scheme.
The pilot will run from April 2, 2018, until March 29, 2019 and will then be reviewed to consider its effectiveness.
At the same time, the council is also developing an Emergency Accommodation Register to increase the availability of good quality, affordable temporary accommodation.
Cllr Michelle Thurgood, Tamworth Borough Council’s Cabinet member for Housing, said: “There are currently more than 1,500 people registered with Tamworth Borough Council seeking accommodation, which greatly exceeds the supply of houses available for those in need. Demand could rise as a result of new legal duties that will be placed on councils when the Homeless Reduction Act comes into force next year.
“We are looking at all aspects of the housing strategy in preparation for that, which means examining all the measures that are in place to help prevent people from becoming homeless, or to find them decent, suitable accommodation if they are homeless.”