A NEW housing company could be formed to build on the success of Carmarthenshire County Council’s affordable homes commitment.
Councillors at next week’s Community Scrutiny Committee will be the first to hear of plans to establish a council-owned company which would give the council greater freedom to build homes and help local people get a foot on the property ladder.
If agreed, the company would open up new opportunities for hundreds of affordable homes to be developed outside the boundaries of the Housing Revenue Account (HRA), which limits investment to social housing. The council’s current housing stock would not be affected and will remain in council ownership.
A mix of new affordable homes, for sale and rent, would offer families alternatives to social housing with a particular focus on rural areas.
It is hoped the venture would also stimulate the local housing market and boost the economy by providing opportunities for jobs and training in the local construction industry.
The report to scrutiny members is the first step along the political journey. They will make recommendations for the Executive Board which will have the final say when it comes before members at the end of November.
If approved, a detailed business plan for the new company would get underway early in 2018.
Cllr Linda Evans, executive board member for housing, said: “We want to be proactive and creative in meeting the demand for affordable homes, whilst supporting the council’s wider regeneration objectives. The company would allow us to help more local people on to the property ladder with a variety of options for low cost home ownership or long-term rent.
“Operating as a company independently of the council would allow us the freedom to invest more money and secure grant funding to support the local housing market and local economy.
“We want to be able to take advantage of the skills of local companies and develop small sites in rural areas to help meet demand for homes away from the main urban areas – something that doesn’t seem to be happening by big private sector developers at the moment.
“If approved it will accelerate house building and stimulate the market in a way that is not currently an option for the council.
“These new homes would add to what we are already achieving by retaining and growing our social housing stock, which will remain in the ownership and management of the county council to ensure we can continue looking after our existing tenants.”
She added: “In 2016 we promised to create 1,000 more affordable homes in Carmarthenshire over five years. We have already exceeded our year-on-year targets to deliver on that promise and the creation of the company would significantly exceed that promise and take it in a new direction that is both exciting and ambitious for us as a council and the hundreds of families who want to own a home they can afford.”
Read the full report and other items listed on the agenda for the Community Scrutiny Committee on the council’s website www.carmarthenshire.gov.wales