Council unveils ambitious house building plans

By on 05/06/2009 in News

Birmingham City Council has announced plans to build over 131 homes within the next twelve months; a scale of council house building unseen in Birmingham for the last three decades.

The first phase of construction was announced at the launch of the Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust earlier today, 5 June. The prestigious event, which brought together partners, tenants and residents, was hosted by Professor Carl Chinn MBE and reflected on the city’s long municipal tradition of housing provision.

The event saw the council reaffirm its commitment to one of the most ambitious house building plans in the UK, which will eventually deliver 500 new council homes a year. Across the country, just 375 council houses were built last year.

To support this programme the Council’s Cabinet on 8 June will be asked to give the go-ahead for a bid to the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) for £7.2m in funding towards the project, from the £100m allocation announced in this year’s Budget.

If the bid to the HCA proves successful, this money will then be supplemented with £8 million from the council itself, to enable the building of the new two, three and four bed homes.

The plans have been developed in response to the needs of local people and the homes in the first phase are planned in four key areas of Birmingham where the demand for affordable housing is at its highest. The new homes will be built on land which is already owned by the council. The first phase of homes will be available on a social rent basis while the Council’s longer term plan is to create multi-tenure housing opportunities city wide.

Councillor John Lines, Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “I am delighted that Birmingham and other councils are now in a position to intervene in the housing market directly and take our first steps to build much needed affordable homes for our people.

“Given the economic climate, the housing market has weakened and financing for RSL development has become harder, which is why we’ve decided to step in and take a lead. These 131 homes will be the first phase of hundreds of homes we will deliver to ensure that Birmingham residents can live in a range of sustainable, affordable homes of all sizes and tenures, across the city.”

Elaine Elkington, Acting Strategic Director of Housing and Constituencies, added: “The Government’s signal to relax the financial constraints on local authorities could not have come at a better time for Birmingham. We have a unique chance to play a far greater role in increasing affordable housing in the city through the Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust. Our plans have been developed with full support of the HCA and our proven track record as a city is on delivery.”

Bids to the HCA for funding take place in two rounds, with submissions due in July and October 09 respectively. Decisions on each round of bidding are expected by the end of the year, allowing building of new homes to begin in March 2010 and be completed by Easter 2011.

The Council’s initial intention is to build 131 new homes across four key areas:

Kings Norton: 40 homes
Hodge Hill: 38 homes
Sparkbrook: 35 homes
Handsworth: 18 homes

The building plans will also play a key role in supporting Birmingham’s targets for growth, given population rises predicted over the next 15 years.

Katherine Dunn, Local resident and Chair of the Constituency Tenant Group from Kings Norton (proposed location of 40 new homes) said: “This is excellent news for the city and my area. In my view, councils building again is long overdue.

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