District needs 1,500 affordable homes

MORE than 1,500 affordable new homes are needed in a part of Essex where property prices have risen sharply, it has been revealed.The worrying shortfall has been identified by Tendring District Council, which says it is now looking at ways of tackling the problem.

By Annie Davidson

MORE than 1,500 affordable new homes are needed in a part of Essex where property prices have risen sharply, it has been revealed.

The worrying shortfall has been identified by Tendring District Council, which says it is now looking at ways of tackling the problem.

Other authorities in the county have also spoken of the difficulty in trying to ensure there are enough starter homes are on the market.


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Iris Johnson, Tendring's portfolio holder for housing, said last night: "We have an area of general need for more affordable housing for first-time buyers and key workers such as nurses and police officers.

"An affordable house would probably be under £100,000 and shared equity could be looked into. That is something that has been done in the past, although it wasn't always successful."

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Tendring has drawn up a proposed new housing strategy which is currently out to consultation, but its aim is to make developers dedicate 40% of development projects to affordable housing.

Ivan Henderson, MP for the Harwich constituency, said: "There is no doubt that there is a genuine need for affordable housing linked to sustainable employment opportunities within the Tendring district.

"It is important for the balance of any community that young families are not forced out in search of secure employment and affordable housing."

However, the affordable housing shortfall is being felt across the county, and other councils in Essex have voiced their determination to provide more starter homes for first-time buyers and low income families.

Braintree District Council has been allocated £9 million from a regional programme set up to fund more affordable housing.

The council has a waiting list for affordable homes of 2,382 and a shortfall of 547 homes every year.

It has a rolling programme of work with 197 affordable homes planned in the future but the council anticipates providing only 33 for 2004-5. Previously it provided 38 in 2003-4 and 132 in 2002-3.

Simon Walsh, who was elected cabinet member for housing on Wednesday, said: "In fairness to Braintree council, there is a determination to really do as much as we can to secure affordable housing across the district because there is a need and I think demographics influence that as much as modern lifestyles do.

"The council recognises that and is very keen to help wherever we can. We have a history of working with developers in terms of getting affordable housing in with major projects."

He added: "We look at about 30% affordable housing on big schemes."

Colchester Borough Council said just under 100 affordable homes were provided in the year 2003-4 but is working on a number of initiatives to tackle the problem.

Robert Davidson, portfolio holder for housing and community safety, said: "As a council we have acknowledged that to keep supplying the need for affordable housing is a priority.

"In the local plan, which has just been adopted, we have asked for up to 25% affordable housing in any larger development.

"We have four regeneration areas – north Colchester, with Severalls and Cuckoo Farm, the Hythe area, St Botolphs and the Garrison area – and so with those areas alone we are looking at 1,500 affordable new homes in the next few years.

"That is without any other developments which may take place."

He said there were other initiatives including the council helping to arrange rental between landlords and private tenants needing somewhere to live.

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