Published: 09:58, 16 July 2018
| Updated: 19:54, 16 July 2018
More than 60 new council homes will become available to desperate families as part of a £23 million deal announced today.
Canterbury City Council has revealed details of the substantial investment, which will see it convert student accommodation into flats and houses.
The authority has bought the freehold of 44 properties off Sturry Road, which include 193 student bedsits, five three-storey town houses and a three-storey block of flats.
Together they will be converted into 63 self-contained flats and houses.
It is hoped the deal will help reduce the 2,401 households on the council’s waiting list – known as the Housing Needs Register.
Council leader Cllr Simon Cook said: “This deal has been a long time coming and is the result of a great deal of hard work by officers behind the scenes.
“We have not been able to talk about this earlier for fear of being gazumped by those with deeper pockets than our own.
“These properties, which are close to the city centre, will provide a massive boost in the number of socially rented homes across the district.
“Local people tell us affordable housing is one of their key priorities and high house prices and market rents are an issue.”
The investment includes the purchase of 193 student bedsits in Parham Close, Riverdale House, Albert Mews, Stour Promenade and Glenside Avenue, which have communal kitchens and bathrooms.
These would be converted into 52 self-contained flats and houses, providing 132 bedrooms and “generous living space and modern facilities”.
Contracts for these properties were exchanged on Friday June 15, and completion is expected to take place in August once the academic year has come to an end.
Also part of the deal is a three-storey block of six flats, two per floor, in Parham Road, which currently provide 23 bedrooms.
After adaptation, this will provide four two-bedroom flats and two two/three-bedroom flats.
Contracts for the property were exchanged on Thursday (July 12), along with the purchase of five three-storey townhouses in nearby Parham Close.
Council spokesman Rob Davies said: “It will take some time for the conversion work to take place but officers are determined to house the first tenants as quickly as possible.
“Buying and adapting these properties rather than starting from scratch has a number of advantages:
“It would be impossible to find a similar size site, negotiate its acquisition, get planning permission and develop 63 homes in anywhere near the same timeframe
“Having a large number of homes in the same place makes managing them much easier when compared to 63 homes spread across the district
“The council can also tailor the existing 44 properties to suit its immediate housing needs.
“By providing more permanent homes for families in housing need, there should be less need for temporary accommodation.”
The council says the investment is part of an ongoing programme to increase the number of council flats and houses, which began in 2015.
It says 47 had already been purchased by March this year, but it is not known how many of these were bought back from council tenants who had acquired their homes as part of the Right to Buy scheme.
Money made through the scheme will partly fund the £23 million investment, with the rest coming from the council’s housing reserve and a loan. A breakdown of these figures has not yet been released.
The government limits the amount of money councils can borrow to pay for council properties.