Council bids for share of housing fund

Pic to illustrate the depressed housing market in Blackpool.'For Sale signs on Talbot Road in Layton. PIC BY ROB LOCK'30-5-2011
Pic to illustrate the depressed housing market in Blackpool.'For Sale signs on Talbot Road in Layton. PIC BY ROB LOCK'30-5-2011

A MAJOR boost to the number of affordable homes in St Helens could be on the cards after the council launched a bid for a share of £1.8bn worth of funding.

St Helens Council and partners hope to create 623 new affordable homes across the borough as part of the Homes and Communities Agency’s national Affordable Homes Programme.

The scheme is aimed at creating 150,000 new affordable homes in the UK.

But, while welcoming any plan to boost the availability of affordable housing, Councillor Andy Bowden warned: “We are facing a housing crisis. While any funding is to be welcomed the previous government allocated £8.9bn over three years for this.

“This means that the new announcement is a £7.1bn drop in housing investment. It is nowhere near enough to tackle problems of people unable to even get on the housing ladder or finding affordable rented accommodation.”

St Helens Council has been working with Helena Partnerships and other housing associations to identify local housing priorities.

The funding bid is aimed at creating more bungalows and providing first time buyers with a better chance to get onto the property ladder.

If the council’s bid is successful, the scheme will be delivered over the next four years.

Coun Bowden, St Helens Council’s cabinet member for urban regeneration and housing, added: “We have been working hard with partners to develop a bid which would increase the supply of affordable housing, widen choice, offer housing support, and unlock or help private sector investment and proposals to bring empty homes back into use.”

Bill Lacey, head of growth and new opportunities at Helena Partnerships, said: “This is an important opportunity to bid for funding that could provide significant numbers of new build affordable housing within St Helens.

“Our offer includes a mix of rented homes and low-cost home ownership properties that would help address some of the barriers that currently prevent people accessing a home of their own. Helena Partnerships is committed to working with St Helens Council to meet the strategic aspirations for housing in St Helens.”

An announcement on the bid is expected next month.