Labour unveils housing boom
Last updated at 11:59, Friday, 08 March 2013
THE biggest social house-building programme since the end of the Second World War could be on the way for Tynedale.The Labour Party has pledged to build more than 450 new affordable homes in the district if it gains a working majority in May’s county council elections.
Labour has identified 21 towns and villages across the district for housing schemes, ranging from just a couple in some villages to more than 40 in others.
The biggest proposed developments are at Ponteland (55), Prudhoe (46), Allendale (45) and Corbridge (39).
Other major sites would be at Ovingham (32), Bellingham (26), and Stocksfield (26).
Smaller communities lined up for development include Tarset (8) and Rochester (6).
Labour claims the massive building programme would not only help to tackle the county’s chronic shortage of affordable homes, but would also create 500 construction jobs every year, and help to secure another 3,000 jobs in the supply chain.
While no details of specific sites have been given, because of potential ownership issues, development would take place on previously developed land, known as brownfield sites.
The party has pledged no development would encroach onto any green field sites.
However, Labour could be on collision course with council planning policies, which frown on housing development in villages lacking certain facilities and infrastructure.
There could also be resistance to mass developments in areas where sewerage services, water supplies and doctor’s surgeries are already tautly stretched.
Labour group leader on the county council, Coun. Grant Davey, said: “Over the last five years, communities have been crying out for affordable homes and we’ve listened.
“Our plans would build at least 1,300 new affordable homes over the next four years which would create new jobs and support existing ones.
“If the people of Northumberland elect a Labour majority in the council chamber on May 2, we will bring forward detailed plans to kickstart the Northumberland economy through the most ambitious affordable house-building programme in the county for over 40 years, within the first 100 days.”
The 451 Tynedale homes are included in a proposed programme which would see affordable homes built across the county as a whole during the four-year life of a Labour administration.
Northumberland’s latest housing needs survey revealed the council needed to build at least 240 homes per year over the next 10 years to make inroads into its housing waiting list.
The innovative plan would see Labour supporting Homes for Northumberland and the county housing associations by using prudential borrowing to enable homes to be built on an “invest to save” model.
It means the authority would borrow the cash, and then lend it out to build the homes, recouping the loan over 25 years.
The plans also include encouraging Arch, the council’s arms-length regeneration partner, to expand use of its intermediate housing stock, as well as assisting through the purchase of void and hard to sell properties, moving them into the intermediate rental market.
The scheme would see the creation of at least 350 new build, affordable homes per year for the next four years, which would create at least 500 construction jobs each year.
Labour will begin with a craft apprentice training scheme linked to the construction phase to raise the skills base of the communities involved.
Labour failed to win a single seat in Tynedale on the county council in the last elections in 2008, and is presently the smallest of the major parties on the council.
However, the party is expected to make a strong comeback in the May elections following its worst ever showing at the polls five years ago.
The council is presently hung, with no party in overall control, although the Lib Dems operate a minority administration.
The location and number of houses in each of the 21 named parishes is: Acomb (17); Allendale (45); Barrasford (16); Bellingham ( 26); Chollerford (14); Corbridge (39); Fourstones (6); Halt-whistle (19); Haydon Bridge (10); Hexham (17); Mickley Square (22); Newbrough (10); Otterburn (15); Ovingham ( 32); Ponteland (55); Prudhoe (46); Rochester (6) Stocksfield (26); Tarset (8); Wark (20); West Woodburn (2).