Council pledges more housing

Liverpool City Council has revealed plans to build an extra 2,000 new homes in the city over the next three years and is pledging an investment of £130m in housing.

The council said there will be a major drive to bring empty property back into use, the potential introduction of a mortgage scheme to help first-time buyers and the creation of a £20m housing fund.

The council believes that, between 2012 and 2015, it will be able to lever in an estimated £130m for new housing developments.

A housing delivery plan, covering the three year period, will be considered by Liverpool City Council's cabinet on Friday 4 November.

The council said it is proposed that the plan will be financed through borrowing and by using capital receipts. The council has also bid for £10m through the Government's Housing Market Renewal transition fund which launched in May this year and is operating until 2013.

The council added that it could also potentially receive revenue from the Government's New Homes Bonus scheme which commenced in April 2011 to match fund the additional council tax raised for new homes and empty properties brought back into use, with an additional amount for affordable homes available from April 2012.

For the mortgage scheme, the council said £3m could be made available to initially help 200 first time buyers, and repayments will be used to help fund further mortgages.

Liverpool City Council's plan aims to improve the quality and range of the housing stock in the city by working with registered providers, previously known as registered social landlords, and private developers.

The plan will involve making council-owned brownfield sites, throughout the city, available for housing at no cost, although registered providers would have to enter into some form of "clawback agreement" in the case of sites which are not ultimately developed.

As well as the new build proposals, the plan also includes creating a special team to make a concerted effort to deal with empty homes in the city.

The council said the number of empty properties has fallen from 11% of the city's housing stock in 1998 to 6% last year but it is felt this can be improved by a mixture of persuasion and enforcement action on private owner.

Cllr Joe Anderson, leader of Liverpool City Council, said: "This is the biggest investment of this type we have seen for decades.

"When I took over as leader I made it clear that housing was one of my top priorities and this plan will help deliver significant improvements at a time when we are facing real economic challenges. Not only will our housing stock be improved through this and other building schemes which are taking place in the city, but it will create much-needed jobs and help build sustainable communities.

"We are investing in this area to save. We will be providing housing which will encourage people to stay in the city which boosts its economy.

"But this is not just about social housing, it is a unique opportunity for regeneration and growth which will produce thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of apprenticeships.

"Along with our investment in eight new schools and through the council's Asset Backed Vehicle, which allows us to use our land and buildings to attract long-term investment from the private sector and so stimulate regeneration, we are looking at around half a billion pounds of investment in the city creating growth and jobs."

Cllr Ann O'Byrne, cabinet member for housing a the council, added: "It is vital for the city that we provide the type of affordable homes that people want. With the ending of the Housing Market Renewal Initiative programme and the general lack of investment in the housing market we have to find imaginative ways of providing the type of good quality homes people in this city want.

"By releasing sites at no cost, providing a subsidy and working with private developers and registered providers, we will see 2000 new homes built in this city in the next three years on top of the hundreds which are currently being built. We have a waiting list of 18,000 and we will drastically reduce this by providing the types of homes people desperately need.

"We are also going to tackle the problem of empty homes. There has been some success in reducing the number in recent years but a lot more can be done and we are going to have a dedicated team to deal with this."

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