Council’s action to boost housing

Progress on the new council flats on Brook Street, Sutton.
Progress on the new council flats on Brook Street, Sutton.

Ashfield District Council is in the process of building its first new council properties for nearly 30 years as it seeks to increase its housing stock in the face of a rising demand for social housing.

The former Sutton Baths site on Brook Street in Sutton is being turned into a block of 18 two-bed apartments, four one-bed apartments and three two-bed bungalows, which will house elderly people in the district.

Building work is well underway, with block and beam floor installed to the main block and the superstructure to the ground floor half complete.

Meanwhile plans are progressing to redevelop Darlison Court in Hucknall, which will provide 39 one and two bedroom apartments.

Demolition work is due to start in June and suitable alternative accommodation is being sought for the one tenant who remains in the Ogle Street bungalows.

Trevor Watson, the council’s service director for economy, said that the council’s building programme has restarted following a change in legislation in April 2012.

“Previously, Government policies made the funding of new build homes by councils very difficult,” he said.

“New development sites take a long time to plan and following a considerable period of assessment, the new sites are progressing well.

“The council’s house building programme has so far focused on homes for elderly persons.

“Our most recent Housing Needs study concludes that the property types in greatest demand are two and three-bed houses and two-bed apartments.

“Due to the ageing population, there is also a significant need for elderly persons’ accommodation and, by attempting to meet this demand, it will enable older tenants and owners to move from larger properties which will then become available for families.”

Converting empty homes back into use is also something the council is actively pursuing.

Ashfield Homes has a target of re-letting properties that become vacant within 25 days and as of 28th March, it had 31 vacant properties. These included 14 ‘normal voids’ where the property is undergoing routine repairs before it is re-let and 17 long-term voids.

Of these properties, the longest has been vacant for around five years and is one of 10 properties under review by the council for possible demolition.

Two others in this category have been vacant for more than four years.

Ashfield District Council is also in the process of purchasing three empty properties and in negotiations to buy two others.

Officers have been targeting long-term empty properties in certain areas, bringing these forward for sale or disposal, and many of these now have new owners who will be looking to let them out soon.

Other sites are being planned for long-term regeneration - including Warwick Close in Kirkby, where there is a small number of empty properties.

Mr Watson said: “Work on this site is progressing well, and following a number of options and decisions we are now at the procurement stage and looking at future designs for the area.

“Other development sites are being considered once the current sites have been developed and new homes built.”