Council helps increase housing growth across the district

Date 1/6/2015 

PR4834

A report detailing the progress that is being made to increase the building of new homes across the district will be discussed next week.

At the meeting Wakefield Council's Cabinet will review the progress and will be asked to give their approval for the work to continue in order to meet the needs of the district's growing number of households and maximise job and business opportunities.

Cllr Denise Jeffery, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Economic Growth said: "Census information shows that around 1,300 new households are forming across the district every year. If the demand outstrips the supply then the price of housing can significantly increase. This puts yet another burden on household budgets and makes it even harder for those on average incomes to own their own homes.

"Increasing the supply of homes has to be a priority for the Council and our partners and we are making good progress. We know the market is still very challenging as is the Council's financial situation. Going forward we need to continue to strengthen our partnerships within the public and private sector and be innovative in the way we work, if we are to meet the district's housing needs."

The report outlines a new Joint Venture Partnership has been set up by Wakefield Council and Wakefield and District Housing (WDH) to build new homes for sale and affordable homes. This innovative approach aims to capture the financial benefit of meeting the need for new homes and use it to help other residents by re-investing the profit back into housing regeneration.

The report states that the majority of new homes are built by private housing developers and although their prospects are improving they remain strongly influenced by the general economic climate.  2014 showed a 42% increase in sites where work had started and a 55% increase in number of homes completed – when compared with 2013.  The Council recently secured funding to proactively work with developers who have sites with planning permissions for new homes, but haven't started building yet to help resolve any issues that may be preventing work starting.

The Council also supports four Registered Housing Provider partners and is committed to providing subsidised land for affordable new homes. A total of 294 new affordable homes were built in 2013/14 and indications are that 2014/15 will exceed this number.

The report shows that there are a number of projects in key regeneration areas where the Council is taking the lead in helping new homes to be built. There are five schemes in the south east where the Council secured £8m of Regional Growth Fund (RGF) grants to bring forward more than 650 new homes. In 2014 all but one of these schemes were on site.

The Council is also working with private developers to bring forward around 2,500 new homes over the next 15 – 20 years in the City Fields area in Wakefield. The first phase of this is for 500 new homes and the developers plan to start on site in February.

The Former Prince of Wales Colliery Site in Pontefract is a key area where the Council is already working with the owner of the site to help secure the development of 917 new homes. Around 131 of these homes already have full planning permission with work due to start on site shortly.

There are also a number of housing sites coming forward in the Castleford area. These include Navigation Point, the former chemical works and Nestle sites, and Fryston. The Council is also investigating some of its own sites in Airedale to see if they can be used for housing development in the longer term.

The Cabinet meeting takes place on Tuesday 13 January at 10.30am at the Westfield Centre, Westfield Lane South Elmsall.