Date issued: 5 July 2019
A major report, which spotlights Colchester Borough Council’s ambitions to build more council houses, was launched at the Local Government Association’s annual conference this week.
The report by the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) and the District Councils Network (DCN), titled Districts building for the future: The impact of the removal of the HRA borrowing cap, surveyed 50 Councils nationwide. It concludes that the 2018 lifting of a Government debt cap on local council borrowing to fund housebuilding has already led to two-thirds of councils seizing the opportunity to build more social housing in the near future.
The report highlights Colchester Borough Council for the “full commitment of its Cabinet to increase the level of affordable housebuilding” and as a good example for managing, and being realistic about, risk. It describes the council as having “a healthy approach to borrowing,” as it has modelled its debt projections from the additional borrowing over the next 30 years “to show the capacity to carry out a more ambitious programme of building.”
The council recently reaffirmed its ambition to deliver up to 350 new affordable homes for local people on its housing waiting list, over the next five years. A series of development projects will provide the new affordable homes through borrowing up to £75m to support the delivery of these much-needed homes. This would then be repaid over a longer period from the additional affordable rents from the new homes.
Councillor Adam Fox, Portfolio Holder for Housing, said: “I am delighted, though not entirely surprised, that our ambition to build more social homes in the borough has been recognised as an example of what councils can and must do to meet local housing need.
“Having been hamstrung for so many years by a variety of Government policies, the removal of the HRA cap means we can now drive forward our ambitious commitment to deliver the affordable homes our residents need and want, in partnership with Colchester Borough Homes and our housing company CAHL.