Council to buy back houses

By Ian Dipple Monday 10 February 2014 Updated: 10/02 17:45

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Buy photos » Redditch Town Hall

ALMOST £400,000 has been made available to buy back council houses in response to the growing demand for social housing in the borough.

Redditch Borough Council is actively buying back council houses which were previously lost into private ownership over the last three decades under the Right to Buy scheme.

So far just one property has been purchased as part of the plan but another six are due to be completed over the next six months. In the last year the council received 14 enquiries from residents asking if the authority would be willing to buy their property.

A total of £110,000 was spent on the scheme in 2012/13 with another £282,500 allocated to the scheme in this financial year.

Council chiefs say there are a variety of reasons why people want to sell and each case will be considered on an individual basis with no guarantee properties put forward will be bought.

Coun Mark Shurmer, responsible for housing on the council, said: "The new buy back scheme is really good news for Redditch as it will mean we can increase our housing stock and provide more, in demand properties to residents on the waiting list.

"It is also good news for tenants who bought their properties from us previously but need to sell for whatever reason."

The move is one of the ways the council is attempting to boost the amount of social housing in the borough following the decision last October by the controlling Labour group to rule out the idea of the authority building its own properties again.

Officers say on average ex-council homes can be purchased for about £104,000 while building from scratch would cost £132,895 and deliver less than 40 properties due to a lack of suitable council owned land.

To meet demand for affordable housing in the borough 200 properties a year need to be provided but over the last six years just 340 have been created.

Selling or giving land away to housing associations, working with private landlords, introducing home ownership grants to allow council tenants to buy a private property so their home can be re-let and a shared equity scheme are other measures being used to boost affordable housing numbers.

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