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The Health Secretary has set out the next steps in the fight against Coronavirus. See the press conference at Youtube: Coronavirus press conference (19 January 2022).

Proposal to address social housing need

Published March 10, 2020 4.02pm

New council homes could be built in County Durham under a proposed development scheme.

Proposals for us to develop new social housing in order to address a shortfall in affordable housing will be presented to our Cabinet when it meets next week.

The council's Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) outlines that, between 2016 and 2035, there has been a net shortfall of 836 in affordable dwellings per year and less than 50 per cent of this is met on an annual basis.

The council believes there is a definite gap in the market and will be looking to build homes that meet the needs of people in their community, in particular looking at homes for the elderly and those with specialist needs.

As well as preparing a business plan that identifies the scale of development, there is also £1 million allocated to kick start the process to increase the supply of social housing. 

Security and sustainability

Cllr Kevin Shaw, Cabinet member for housing and assets, said: "Our Registered Housing Providers play an important role in delivering the social housing we need, but the introduction of rent to buy has led to over 4 million council houses being lost which has led to a major shortfall in being able to meet demand.

"Councils used to be a major contributor to the number of homes being available for affordable rent and at one point over 88,500 were built in the UK in a single year, but this figure has dropped significantly with less than 2,000 being built nationally last year.

"As a council we must act positively to meet current and future need and this intervention will add real value alongside the continuous work undertaken by our partner housing providers.

"This move will once again bring much needed council homes into the equation for people who want the security and sustainability of affordable housing, within the community they live.

"Many of our elderly and disabled residents live in homes that do not meet their needs and by building more such homes we can also free the existing homes for others."

If the decision is passed through Cabinet, a business plan will be developed to assess the scale of the opportunity of building and owning council homes. The plan will consider a number of scenarios and funding prospects.

Cabinet will meet on Wednesday 18 March at County Hall, Durham. To see the full report, visit Cabinet agenda and minutes 18 March 2020