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Council announces huge council house building programme

Waltham Forest Council has announced it will embark on a massive programme to build 435 new council homes using £16.7m of grants and loans over the coming 3 years.

The authority was successful in bidding for a £9.7m grant from the Greater London Authority (GLA) and a £7m loan facility from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

A grant funding pot of £404m was made available by the GLA for councils and Housing Associations to bid to build affordable homes. Waltham Forest Council was awarded the second highest amount of funding of any Council in this round of bidding.

The Council also took advantage of new borrowing powers that enable councils to build more affordable homes by bidding for a share of a £300m pot of extra borrowing capacity from the DCLG.

The new powers will go hand in hand with a change in the rules about council land sales, meaning more surplus and redundant land and property can be released to build homes for local communities.

The Council will need to demonstrate maximum value for money, by including funds from disposal of surplus assets, particularly high-value vacant stock, and by bringing forward their own land for new affordable housing.

“This is hugely significant and a real step change in the way we as a Council are addressing the issue of the chronic under-supply of housing in the borough head on,” said Cabinet Member for Housing, Councillor Khevyn Limbajee.

“To put it in perspective the last time the Council built new council houses was in 2011, and then it was just 22 new homes. For around a quarter of a century before that we (along with all other councils) simply did not invest in building new council houses at all.

“We hope that this is just the start of a much larger programme of house building that we can undertake over the coming years. I’m convinced that if we’re going to do our bit to go some way to meet the demand for housing that this is one of the measures we now simply have to take.”

Some of the new Council homes that are to be built in the borough will be on sites already earmarked for development, such as Marlowe Road off Wood Street. Other sites have been identified for regeneration and the Council is in the process of identifying additional sites where these homes can be built.

The funding secured by the Council will contribute towards a programme of house building from 2015 to 2018.

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