A £1million cash windfall will be spent on providing new affordable housing, Stratford District Council announced last week.
The money, which has been ring-fenced for this purpose, was given to the authority by Orbit as its share of the sale of derelict garage sites in the district.
Exactly how the money will be spent on affordable housing has yet to be announced, but the council’s Affordable Housing Working Group has been tasked with looking into where it will have the most benefit for residents.
There has been much speculation as to how the money would be spent since the windfall was first announced back in July.
In the weeks since liberal democrats at the council have made calls for the cash to be spent on providing accommodation for the town’s homeless as well as more affordable housing.
Cllr Peter Richards, Housing and Infrastructure Portfolio says: “This is excellent news; the Council had not budgeted for this income and it is great that the District Council is still benefiting from a former legal agreement. We won’t be rushed into blindly spending this extra money immediately; however, we are keen for this to be used for housing purposes, which supports the work that has already been undertaken over the last 12 to 18 months.
“The normal practice would be for the Council to consider this alongside the production of the next version of the Capital Programme. However given the scale of the receipt and the importance of the housing related issues this is an opportunity to consider the current options.
“The Affordable Housing Working Group will now look at where the money could be best utilised for the benefit of local people. It’s not often you get such a bonus as this, but it can make a real difference and help us tackle current housing problems and support many more residents and families.”
Responding to the announcement, Peter Moorse, leader of the liberal democrat group at the district council, said: “I’m delighted if this is going to lead to more affordable housing being provided across the district, I would like to see the council really push on with this now.
“I think we need to look at providing both more affordable housing and more housing for the homeless.”
Earlier this month the council agreed to provide £30,000 to fund the creation of a business case into a new affordable housing company being set up by the authority.
The advantages of this would be that it would provide the council with a future source of income, while doing this through a separate company would mean it would avoid some of the high costs it would incur if it chose to directly build affordable houses itself.
Cllr Mark Cargill, who originally proposed the idea of the council setting up a housing company, also told the Herald this month that a seeming reluctance of housing associations like Orbit to take on smaller affordable housing schemes, had been another motivation for the council.
He added that he hoped progress on the business case could be made rapidly.