Government says city council will not have to repay housing debt of £735m from the transfer of its previous housing stock clearing the way for the new-build programme. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool is to build its first new council houses in 30 years after securing the go-ahead from the Government.
Minister of State for Housing, Kit Malthouse, has written to Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson confirming the city council would not need to repay the housing debt of £735m that was written off when it transferred the last of its stock to housing associations in the late 2000s.
The plan was first revealed by political journalist Liam Thorp in the Liverpool Echo in May and the authority says today the first homes under the council housing scheme be a small number of properties that have been refurbished on Webster Road in Picton. It will also offer a boost to local construction firms.
It will be separate from the council’s ‘ethical’ housing company, Foundations, which is planning to build affordable homes across the city. Rents on affordable homes can be up to 80% of local market rate whereas council homes are typically classed as social housing with rents significantly lower.
Liverpool has a proud tradition of building council houses and was the first city in Europe to do so 150 years ago. St Martin’s Cottages on Ashfield Street in Vauxhall were tenements and survived until 1977 when they were demolished.
Mayor Anderson, who himself grew up in a council house, has said previously that Liverpool will need 30,000 new homes by 2030. He says today: “Liverpool pioneered public sector housing and my formative years were spent growing up in a council tenement.
“Buying is not for everyone, so it is important that we do what we can to help people in every situation to get the home they deserve, and we need to rebalance the city’s housing market with a wider choice of the homes that people need.
“That is why I have pledged that we will build 10,000 houses, and I want a proportion of them to be council homes for people to rent. Affordable, social, properties are desperately needed to make sure nobody is left behind and that is why housing is an integral part of our Inclusive Growth Plan.”
And the council’s Foundations housing company is celebrating the successful release of the first homes under its flagship rent-to-buy programme.
There was significant interest in the new build homes at its Harrington Row development on Park Street, Dingle, with more than 300 enquiries received during the first five days of marketing. All 14 homes were snapped up in under two hours of release.
The three-bedroom family homes are the first tranche of new build houses to be included in the company’s rent-to-buy programme. Under the scheme, people will be able to rent the homes at 80 per cent of the market rent, so they can save the other 20 per cent towards a deposit in order to find a mortgage to buy the property.
They will be given an option to buy their home after 12 months and up to five years at a fair market price based upon an independent valuation at the time of purchase.