Council house plan now in full swing

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The first phase in an ambitious project to provide affordable rented housing in Ashfield is well under way, with the first property available to let this month.

Ashfield District Council has purchased 20 empty properties from around the district using surplus rent money and government funding to make them ready for habitation.

Coun Chris Baron, Leader of Ashfield District Council, said he hoped all of the properties would be ready for letting by April and to apply for funding to buy another 20 in the next financial year.

Said Coun Baron: “There are some derelict areas in Ashfield which have real problems with issues such as fly-tipping and drug use, and so we have approached landlords in those areas asking to buy their properties.

“But in many cases they have declined to sell and taken the initiative to renovate their properties instead, so this has been a win-win situation.

“We have also tried to block-buy houses on the same street, to give areas a real lift overall.”

Many of the properties are two-bedroomed and so meet the criteria for people forced to down-size in light of bedroom tax rules.

The properties have been bought for between £40-60,000, using money from the housing revenue account, with their refurbishment paid for via a cash grant of £20,000 from the Home & Communities Agency.

Ashfield District Council is match funding this with £20,000 from its housing revenue account.

Coun Warren Nuttall, Ashfield District Council’s member for Strategic Housing, said: “There are some really rundown areas in the district so this will be great for Ashfield, and because we have purchased so many properties this has encouraged private landlords to renovate.”

The first property on Kirkby’s Rosewood Drive will be ready for letting this month.