Resounding yes to building new council houses for Arun residents

UNANIMOUS approval has been given to building new council houses for Arun district residents.

Members of all the political parties at Arun District Council united to welcome the prospect of the new properties.

They backed a Liberal Democrat amendment to the council’s budget vote which called for the building to start before 2016.

This echoed comments made by the council’s Conservative leader, Gillian Brown, when she said she hoped the first houses to add to the council’s existing stock of some 4,000 would arrive in ‘two or three’ years.

They would be small-scale pilot projects to gauge their financial viability. “This will be the first time the council has built a council house for over 21 years,” she said.

Labour councillor Roger Nash told the debate at last week’s full council meeting: “We know the housing crisis in Arun is getting worse not better.

“Our housing waiting list has grown by 1,000 in the past year.”

Cllr Roger Elkins (Ferring), who is in charge of the council’s housing service, said: “We have the intention to move forward and deliver housing at a socially affordable rent.

“We want to deliver rents and housing which is suitable to those on the housing list and much more affordable than those developed by social landlords.”

As reported, Arun has regained the ability to build properties under government powers which allow councils to keep all their housing rents.

To do this, though, they have to buy their way out of the current national housing subsidy scheme which saw the council send millions of pounds a year to Whitehall.

This entails the district council borrowing £70.9m at a cheap rate but the income from rents will be enough to pay for some new housing.

Council housing stock began to be eroded in the Eighties when tenants used their new right to buy without their properties being replaced.