A meeting of Leeds City Council’s executive board on Wednesday (5th September) is going to be looking at a proposed new investment programme that could see 325 new affordable homes made available in the city, including some 150 empty properties brought back into use.
The funding for the programme would come from a variety of sources – the New Homes Bonus, the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) and receipts from the council’s Right to Buy programme.
As part of the suggested programme £492,000 would be used on empty homes: £250,00 on refurbishment and “complex cases” such as those requiring compulsory purchase orders, and £242,000 to take on new staff.
“(The) additional resources would enable proactive enforcement work on an area basis. It is proposed that increasing capacity within existing teams would be self funding in that it will accelerate the number of properties which can be brought back into use”, a report prepared for the meeting says.
New-builds, loans and investment with housing associations
The programme envisages using funds from the HRA to finance 105 new build affordable homes – 54 of them for “social rent” and 51 for “affordable rent”. A further 49 new homes could be built by hooking up revenue from the council’s Right to Buy scheme to match funding from housing associations.
The remaining 21 affordable homes would be financed through the council providing buyers of new build properties with equity loans that would help bridge the gap between the cost of the property and the mortgage the buyer could secure.
No final decision on the investment programme is expected from Wednesday’s meeting. The council’s executive board is being asked to give the go-ahead to further work to develop the detail.
It is being asked, however, to agree that £2.3m of funds from the New Homes Bonus and Right To Buy receipts – the funding that it’s suggested be spent on empty properties, equity loans and the joint new-builds with housing associations – be transferred to the council’s capital programme.
“There are opportunities, in the form of new financial freedoms, including the New Homes Bonus, Housing Revenue Account reform and the ability to utilise Right to Buy receipts,” the report says.
“These provide a route for new investment through which the Council, with the support of its partners, can take a lead role in stimulating the supply of new housing. This report proposes an investment approach which provides new housing in the city in an innovative and cost effective way, ” it adds.