FENLAND: Council housing in favour

WITH the so called credit crunch it seems council housing is back on the agenda, government ministers are now backing more and more schemes to allow locals authorities to build their own council homes.Council housing, a pejorative term for too long, is

WITH the so called "credit crunch" it seems council housing is back on the agenda, government ministers are now backing more and more schemes to allow locals authorities to build their own council homes.

Council housing, a pejorative term for too long, is creeping back into favour.

Housing minister Caroline Flint said last week she was willing to take a "totally pragmatic" view of whether councils could be allowed to build homes and keep the rental income.

The reasons for the rethink are twofold. First, housing associations, now the main providers of social housing, are feeling the heat from the credit crunch because cash from planning gain agreements - under which developers agree to include an element of affordable housing in large-scale projects in order to secure planning permission - is fast drying up. At the same time, associations are having trouble selling homes they have built for sale to subsidies social housing, "which is now in total meltdown"


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Those councils directly running housing are fighting back under the umbrella of a group called the Association of Retained Council Housing (Arch). Its secretary, John Bibby, is heartened by the new-found enthusiasm of ministers towards council housing. His organisation has long complained of a grossly uneven playing field, tilted against council housing and preventing local authorities, unlike housing associations, from using their housing assets and future rental streams as collateral to borrow to build

Perhaps Fenland District Council will now finance a planned "council housing build" on the designated land of the riverside project, which has been allowed to be abandoned due to the "credit crunch" or like the Town Mayor says he can find better ways of spending £2.5 million.

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J WHITE

Wisbech

Via e-mail

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