Durham County Council to consider building homes for sale and private rent on land it owns (From The Northern Echo)
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Durham County Council to consider building homes for sale and private rent on land it owns
9:00pm Tuesday 10th December 2013 in News
A COUNCIL in the North-East may turn developer in a bid to increase the number of homes for sale or rent.
Labour-run Durham County Council is looking at the possibility of building on land it owns to boost the county’s housing market.
Officials think there is a need for more properties at market rents and sale prices as house building has showed during the economic downturn to less than 1,000 completions a year.
They say the scheme could raise capital and rental income for the authority, which is having to cut its spending because of the squeeze on public sector finance.
The council is believed to be the first North-East authority to consider such a move.
Next Wednesday (December 18) the council’s cabinet will be recommended to examine the idea in further detail.
A report by the council’s corporate management team stresses that the plan is not about building social or affordable housing.
It says the council owns land in an areas that would be attractive to tenants and homeowners.
Although it does not identify them they would be close to town centres, where the housing market is considered to be relatively strong.
The report says that the setting up of an arms-length company is thought by officials to be the best way of carrying out the plan.
Councillors will also be told that the county’s private rental sector has increased over the past decade while there has been a slight dip in owner occupation.
Corporate management team member Eddie Tomlinson, cabinet member for housing and rural issues, said: “In light of evidence showing slow progress in coming out of the economic downturn in 2009, this is an exciting opportunity to assist the recovery of the housing market in County Durham.
“We need a range of housing for rent and sale in the county and this initiative will help to deliver it.
“These are only proposals at the moment and exact details are still to be finalised.”
The report recommends that the cabinet agrees to the setting-up of a project board to explore the idea and calls for the production of a detailed business plan.
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