Council to splash £18million on 100 new council houses in Exeter

Plans to build 100 new council houses in Exeter over the next four years have won unanimous backing.

The city council’s executive on Tuesday night threw its full support behind the £18million building programme.

Homes will be built to energy efficient standards and will be a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom properties for  individuals, couples and families.

Construction is already under way at Thornpark Rise, the site of a former garage, where nine three-bedroom dwellings are set to be completed early next year.

The other sites are:

  • Bovemoors Lane – also a former garage site – where there is planning consent for 10 three-bedroom family houses;
  • Hamlin Gardens – a former under-used parking area – where there is already planning consent for 21 new flats – a mix of one- and two-bedroom homes;
  • Vaughan Road – 60 new council homes, plus 30 to be sold on the open market. Design work is under way and a planning application is expected soon with a possible start date of spring 2020.

The new Vaughan Road properties will be built on land currently occupied by a former care home and 12 existing council homes which have come to the end of their life.

Councillor Laura Wright, lead for council housing development and services on Exeter City Council, said the Government’s lifting of the borrowing cap had enabled the authority to fund the new homes.

She said the initial 100 planned was just the start, adding: “We’re proud of the fact that, despite the cap on borrowing, we have managed to build 67 new council homes over the last 10 years – all built to energy-efficient standards.

“Now we want to build more and this programme will allow us to deliver 100 new council homes over the next four years.

“People have said that 100 new homes is nowhere near enough and I totally agree, but this is just the start.

“We will make sure that we have meaningful consultation in the plans and that it ties into the bigger picture of housing delivery across the city.

“This is positive news moving forward. We are strongly committed to building new council houses across the city and ensuring that Exeter is a place where everybody has a home.”

Cllr Emma Morse added: “We can only be supportive of this scheme as we have long wanted the housing revenue account cap lifted. I can’t be anything but supportive of this.”

Leader of the council, Cllr Phil Bialyk added: “This is a welcome move and we should be banging the drum about what we are doing.”

A report from Bindu Arjoon, assistant director, to the meeting, said that while the council holds a stock of almost 5,000 residential properties within the Housing Revenue Account. This number reduces by about 40 per year, as stock is sold through the Right to Buy scheme.

She added: “The lifting of the Housing Revenue Account borrowing cap has given the council a great opportunity and both officers and elected members are keen to maximise the development within the HRA.

“This report outlines the council’s programme to increase the number of properties held within the Housing Revenue Account to meet housing need in the city.

“The programme includes acquisition of properties in a scheme being developed by Exeter City Living, together with three schemes to be brought on line which together will deliver 100 new homes for the Housing Revenue Account by summer 2022.”

Exeter City Council is also looking at regeneration and retrofit opportunities across its housing stock and the possibility of extending and adding extra floors to some of its properties, the meeting heard.

The executive unanimously agreed to approve a budget totalling £18million to deliver the four sites and that approval of future years’ development activity will be via an Annual Council House Building Development Plan and the annual capital programme budget report.

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