Council’s bold plans for 1,000 affordable homes
August 9, 2019
Northumberland County Councillors have rubber stamped a new housing strategy that sets an ambitious target to see up to 1,000 new affordable homes built in the county over the next four years.
The strategy also outlines plans to provide specialist and accessible housing for elderly residents and those with support or disability needs.
Residents, stakeholders and town and parish councils have all been given the opportunity to share their views on the strategy and the council’s Cabinet has given its final seal of approval, giving officers the green light to start on its delivery.
The council is now developing a range of programmes to increase the provision of affordable housing, both directly through its own activities and as part of the planning process. Potential development sites within the council’s ownership are also being evaluated to see if they are suitable for affordable housing.
Leader of Northumberland County Council, Peter Jackson said: “Delivering quality affordable housing is one of the key priorities for this council and will further enhance the county’s ever-growing reputation as a great place to live and work.
“Our population is dispersed over a large geographical area and they have varying housing needs. The new housing will reflect this with homes designed for families, the elderly, single people and our most vulnerable residents.”
Northumberland County Councillor John Riddle, cabinet member with responsibility for housing, planning and resilience said: “The approval of the strategy is a landmark decision for the county.
“We’re determined to provide quality affordable housing for rent and make a real and meaningful difference in tackling the growing demand for homes in the county.
“With a population of just over 300,000 people spread over almost 2,000 square miles, the reality in providing the right type of housing, in the right place, is far more challenging than it might first appear.
“The lack of affordable housing is one of the biggest challenges facing the people of Northumberland and it is a particular problem in some rural communities. We need to retain young people in the county to support our growing economy and ensure our communities, local businesses and services continue to thrive. To achieve this we intend to help create places where people can aspire and afford to live.”
The strategy also recognises the need to support vulnerable groups by providing specialist housing for older people and those with support needs.
Northumberland has an ageing population with the number of the over 65’s set to increase by 42.4% from 74,494 to 106,079 by 2031. This will present significant challenges to make sure older people are properly housed and supported.
Furthermore, around 34,000 households in Northumberland have at least one family member with a physical disability; half are over 65 years old.
Cllr Riddle added: “Northumberland has a higher than average ageing population which is set to grow and we need to ensure older people are able to maintain independent living and supported if they have changing housing needs.
“Providing housing that is well-designed for an ageing population and those with disabilities or other long term conditions and ensuring affordability is another key priority for the council.”