New £4m Plan To Increase Affordable Housing

Scheme aims to build an extra 130 rented homes

A new Wandsworth Affordable Housing Grant Programme (WAHGP) has been created with the aim of building an extra 130 low cost rented homes. Councillors have agreed to set aside £4m to help fund the construction costs of these affordable homes.

The money will be raised using the proceeds from Right to Buy sales and also by utilising funds provided by developers to pay for off-site affordable housing. Further funds could also be generated from the sale of vacant land owned by the council.

Councillors on the housing scrutiny committee were told the programme would “maintain the supply of affordable rent units to meet a number of demands including from low to middle income working households living in the borough and homeless households where there is a duty to secure housing.”

Housebuilders will be invited to apply for WAHP funding to build affordable homes on land they have acquired or potentially on vacant land owned by the council.

The town hall’s financial contribution will be used as seed money to lever in additional funding. This means that up to 30 per cent of the overall costs will come from council funds with developers providing the remaining amount.

Wandsworth’s housing spokesman Cllr Paul Ellis said: “This is an ambitious but achievable target to increase the borough’s supply of affordable housing over the next three to five years. We will be putting an initial sum of £4m into this scheme and will be using this money to attract additional investment from housebuilders, construction companies and registered social landlords.

He continued: “Our initial aim is to deliver 130 new rental homes for families on low and middle incomes. If the scheme is a success then we will certainly look to expand it and raise this target even further in the years ahead.”

Last year saw the council unveil its 250th Hidden Home, as part of a ground breaking scheme that creates affordable homes out of vacant and underused spaces on local housing estates.

The Hidden Homes scheme has transformed unwanted laundry rooms, storage areas and defunct boiler rooms into modern and attractive dwellings. It has successfully brought back into use redundant spaces that are either eyesores or could otherwise become havens for anti-social behaviour.

The council says that the programme has represented great value for taxpayers. Because the council already owns these sites there have been no expensive land purchases involved. Across Wandsworth as a whole. more than 1,600 affordable homes are expected to be built in the next four years.

February 10, 2014