Build programme funding in focus

MHBG-07-03-13 West Street Housing

Cllrs Ann Bonner, Margaret Cullip and Debbie Pickford outside the house on West Street, Grimsbury. ENGNNL00120130403150646

MHBG-07-03-13 West Street Housing Cllrs Ann Bonner, Margaret Cullip and Debbie Pickford outside the house on West Street, Grimsbury. ENGNNL00120130403150646

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Officers will recommend Cherwell District Council spends £9.5 million on a project to convert derelict properties into affordable homes at a special council meeting today (Thursday).

A report prepared by the council’s Head of Regeneration and Housing will urge councillors to approve the spend which would create 250 affordable homes, on top of £7 million the council previously allocated .

The scheme – estimated at a total £16 million cost – was originally to be funded by partnership arrangements with ‘registered providers’ but in November last year planners accepted it was likely to be more successful if the council itself acted as the main developer and funded the scheme from its own government grants. Debbie Pickford, the council’s lead member for housing who has championed the scheme for many years, said she hopes the council will agree to fund what she called a ‘win win win win’ project.

She said: “The build programme involves an enormous number of sites that have been left derelict because they are not cost effective, but they will be backed up with others that do make a profit.

“We are doing them as affordable housing which means there will be more chances for people to get on the housing ladder and they will help to regenerate and contribute to the nicety of areas.”

The homes are to be completed across 26 sites including Calthorpe House in Banbury which is to be converted into 15 apartments, Orchard Lodge in Banbury which has been converted into 16 homes for shared ownership, the Fairway Methodist site which will become 11 homes for shared ownership and Lincoln House which will become 18 equity loan properties.

The project is partly a self-build scheme which means residents can apply to help part-build their own homes and are being given training to help them do so.

One cohort of trainees has already completed its course at Ace Training in Kidlington and participants have fitted out the insides of their own flats at Orchard Way, Banbury.

Ms Pickford says this has helped arm them with vital skills as well as create a strong community atmosphere at the flats and a sense of shared interest in which residents share skills and expertise.

The finished apartments are shared ownership between the council and tenants who are assessed for their contribution to the cost of the property on their income, but must either be in full time education or employment. The scheme in some ways serves as a blueprint for Cherwell’s planned self-build scheme in Graven Hill, near Bicester, which has approval for 1,900 homes and will cater for residents across Cherwell.

The council will hear today that it must complete the scheme by March 31, 2015 in order for government funding from the Homes and Communities Agency to be secured.

Officers will be required to submit a further report to the council at the completion of the Build programme to sum up the financial position.

To resister for a property under the Build scheme go to

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