Cabinet members at Thanet council have approved a proposal to buy between 10 and 12 isle properties.
The aim is to provide homes for Thanet families on the housing waiting list or those who are homeless and living in emergency accommodation.
A £2.13million investment will be made by Thanet council to buy the homes.
The cash will be made up of £630,000 from a percentage of the isle’s Right To Buy sales and a further £1.5 million from the Housing Revenue Account.
Due to government rules right to buy receipts can only fund 30% of the cost. The remaining 70% cannot come from government grants or capital receipts.
But TDC can use £1.5million from the Margate Intervention programme and then replace that amount back into the programme using £1.5million of the £1.6million made from the sale of Ramsgate’s Coastguard Cottages.
During a Cabinet meeting last night (October 25) questions were raised about whether buying homes, expected to be of a value between £175,000 and £210,000, would be the best use of council cash.
Cllr Jason Savage said: “£2.2 million on only 10 houses is not very good value. Surely it would be a better return if the council builds rather than buys?”
TDC housing officer Bob Porter said: “We have a new build programme that is delivering 51 new Thanet homes. The average cost of these homes is £204,000 for construction costs and site issues and services.”
He added that it would be quicker to buy properties on the market, making them available for use as soon as possible.
There are currently 174 households are living in temporary accommodation provided by the council.
The council’s existing development programme will have provided around 140 homes by 2019 and includes a mixture of new build and refurbished homes.
The Right To Buy money has to be spent within three years of being received. If it isn’t TDC has to pay it to central government with interest.
The current receipts held by TDC need spending on dates ranging from this December to March 2020.
Cabinet members agreed to approve the use of the money to buy existing homes, either new directly from a developer or from the existing private housing stock.
Cllr Stuart Piper, Cabinet member for housing and open spaces, said: “We recognise that there is a growing need for additional, affordable rented housing in the area and it’s a need we are working hard to address.
“Investing in properties specifically for rent will help us to increase the stock of genuinely affordable homes in Thanet.
“Ultimately it will mean that some of our residents who are currently living in temporary or emergency accommodation will gain the security of a place to call home.”
As I understand it from TDC Housing, the most urgent need is accommodation for single men. The proposed twelve properties do not sound “affordable” and neither are they social housing. It might be better to build new and find innovative building methods to make genuinely affordable homes. The new breed of architecturally-designed prefab would be worth looking at; indistinguishable from traditional brick, a fraction of the cost, and built in weeks. Vision, innovation needed urgently please!
I agree, Councillor Martin. Has nobody on the housing and planning at TDC or SMT got a brain? They are also the only council in Kent who oppose Manton Airport. Madness! We need jobs, jobs and more jobs. Housing isn’t going to provide them. Nor do we want more just to satisfy London boroughs. Prosperity comes from an area with an airport. Ask any of the 5 London airports if their unemployment is high or low. No-brainer!
Some of the ‘Right to Buy’ receipts have to be spent BY THIS DECEMBER however (see Cllr Beverly Martin’s comment re. innovative new buildings instead of buying up fairly cheap existing housing). Also, its said in the press that its very hard to find builders willing to put up one and two bedroom units as it negatively affects their profit.
Builders who agree to build smaller units often fall short of their ‘promise’. They also tend to leave the building of community buildings, medical centres,etc until last and then claim they cannot afford to build them. They should be tied into the Contract with penalties!
i agree that some (not thousands and thousands) houses do need to be built, but why do desperate and homeless people need to live in a house worth over £200,000, as TDC are proposing? Why can’t some of them live in one, two or three-bed apartments, which are much cheaper and where there are some for sale?
I agree Pikkapen. There seems no reason at all why we could not have some beautifully designed properties (affordable and social housing), a mix of studio, one- and two-bed say, or more – with balconies, outside space, communal gardens. It is interesting that neither cabinet nor officers seem to have any interest whatsoever in ideas from elected councillors on housing or any other issue.