Redditch housing scheme could go nationwide

By Ian Dipple 13/04 Updated: 13/04 11:12

Buy photos » Chris Williamson, shadow minister for communities and local government, discusses the co-operative housing scheme in Walton Close with Nathan Cutler. Picture by Marcus Mingins. 1412052MMR

A SOCIAL housing development in Redditch could become the blueprint for future provision across the country.

The Labour Party is considering adopting the Redditch Co-operative Homes model - currently used by five developments comprising of more than 300 properties across the town - as the main basis for its housing policy, to be included in the party's manifesto ahead of the next General Election.

Chris Williamson, shadow minister for communities and local government, visited one of the sites in Walton Close, Winyates last Thursday (April 5) to talk to residents living there and study the scheme in more detail.

Co-operative housing developments differ to council or other social housing as they allow tenants to take more control of where they live from choosing contractors to carry out repairs and maintenance, organising events and activities in their neighbourhoods, interviewing potential neighbours and deciding when tenancies start and end.

Co-operative housing currently accounts for less than one per cent of the nation's housing mix but Mr Williamson told the Standard he envisaged it playing a much bigger part in future.

"I was impressed, we visited one of the units and it was first class accommodation and something we should be looking to extend across the whole country," he added.

"The thing for me is how it puts residents very much in the driving seat and is something speaking to residents they really value. They feel a greater sense of ownership and belonging and that has all sorts of spin-off benefits such as greater community cohesion as a consequence.

"We have a housing crisis in this country, there is growing demand for affordable housing and we need to give people an opportunity to get their foot on the housing ladder and certainly co-operative housing can assist."

Carl Taylor, director of Redditch Co-operative Homes, said: "It's fantastic for Redditch if something we have been doing and getting right is being recognised and gets taken up across the rest of the country.

"We believe people get better housing if they have control over it and we are in favour of that being extended across the country."

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