Salford moves forward with council housing plan

Salford City Council has reiterated its intention to build the first council houses in the city for a generation, following a report that its affordable housing completions are falling short of volumes required.

The update from the council’s affordable housing programme, which aims to deliver a mixture of social rented, affordable rented and shared ownership homes, said that although 17% of new homes provided in Salford last year by developers, landlords and housing associations were affordable, the city still needs 760 new affordable homes each year to meet need. Last year, 461 affordable homes were provided. The council said that for every affordable home made available, 27 potential buyers were left disappointed.

In 2017, the council set its plans in motion by establishing Derive, an organisation that will function as its housing company. Salford, which in the last complete financial year of 2016-2017 collected £6.5m in Section 106 contributions, of which £1.7m was spent on mitigation at the schemes concerned, believes it can make council housing work.

Cllr John Merry, deputy city mayor, said: “We have set up Derive as a wholly owned subsidiary of the council. Initially we will be buying existing homes off the shelf to meet demand quickly. They will be available this year – and then we will be buying and building more in the future.

“We’re starting from scratch, but we aim to build up the company’s capacity over time to provide larger and larger numbers of homes to meet the housing needs of people in Salford.

“In the absence of any government support, we will be kick-starting Derive with £2m of Section 106 money from developers, other funds from the council and self-financing the affordable housing by selling some of the houses and letting others at market rents.”

Merry said that Derive is already involved in projects to deliver around 900 affordable homes by 2021, using the council’s partnerships with local housing associations.

He added: “Salford City Council will also continue to work with developers, property owners, landlords and our housing association partners as we have been doing to bring empty properties back into use and get new homes built but it takes time.

“There is no magic wand that can solve what is a national housing crisis overnight, but in Salford we are forging ahead with a clear strategy to deliver for the people of our city and I do recognise what we have done so far is a drop in the ocean given demand – but our plans are ambitious.”

The council said that completions in Salford last year included 336 new builds and 125 existing properties brought to market as affordable homes, with 497 homes completed using build-to-rent funding and another 142 households using the Help to Buy equity loan scheme.

A business plan for the new company is expected to be approved in March this year and the first houses purchased by Derive should be available by next year.

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