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Council flats on Canterbury estate to signal start of social housing building programme

By Jack Dyson

Council flats to be built on a Canterbury estate will signal the start of a wider social housing programme across the district, authority chiefs hope.

Plans are in for eight homes within a four-storey block on council-owned land at Warwick Road on the Spring Lane estate and are expected to be approved on Tuesday.

The authority hopes it will “set the ball rolling” on a number of similar developments across Canterbury, Herne Bay and Whitstable as it looks to tackle the 2,500 cases on its waiting list.

It is hoped the development will lead to more across Canterbury, Herne Bay and Whitstable
It is hoped the development will lead to more across Canterbury, Herne Bay and Whitstable

Cllr Joe Howes is the vice-chairman of the council’s community committee and heavily involved with housing issues.

He said: “This application shows our commitment to building our own stock to provide more genuinely affordable homes for people within the district. As a council we have always tried to increase the number of properties by purchasing suitable properties from the open market or by using our first refusal option on buying back right-to-buy houses.

“We also have many housing associations building within the district to increase the number of properties available to those on the housing needs register.”

Cllr Howes said cuts to council rents two years ago reduced the money available in the council’s housing revenue account, which funds the building and maintenance of social housing.

He said: “We had a business plan for building council homes, but once there were rent cuts our housing revenue account wasn’t growing as much as we had hoped, which meant we had to put everything on the back-burner.

“But now we’re able to go out and look at building more so this is the start of hopefully a big programme, a big plan.

Cllr Joe Howes says the council now has more money
Cllr Joe Howes says the council now has more money

"In the shorter term we are looking to build more because we now have the flexibility to do so and more money coming in.

"We’ll have a new business plan drawn up because the rents will be allowed to rise.

“We are looking for sites on our land, identifying sites where we can build. There will be bigger developments.

“We’re hoping to get the permission through on Warwick Road so we can then start the ball rolling on other projects.

“We’re waiting to identify precise numbers.”

The site in Warwick Road is now occupied by 12 under-used garages.Tenants will be offered parking at a garage forecourt.

Officers have recommended the council’s planning committee approve the application at a meeting at the Guildhall on Tuesday evening.

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