HEREFORDSHIRE Council leaders have agreed to provide 2,500 new council homes over the next ten years.

Cabinet members say this will help residents who cannot afford to get on the housing ladder as the county suffers from high property prices and low wages.

They agreed that the best way to achieve their ambitions is for the council to own these new properties initially before setting up a Housing Revenue Account.

These accounts are intended to record expenditure and income on running a council’s own housing stock and closely related services or facilities.

The council will ask Engie regeneration to develop recommendations for potential sites which will be reviewed at a cabinet meeting next week.

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Housing, regulatory services, and community safety cabinet member Ange Tyler said: “As we know the housing market is not delivering a choice of smaller and affordable new homes to meet the housing needs of the Herefodshire population.

“Especially the younger population who are unable to remain living in their local communities.

“This lack of housing availability and choice raises house prices and creates barriers for vulnerable residents.

“And there is a growing population of older people who struggle to secure affordable homes that can be adapted to meet their needs.

“The council has now engaged with Engie regeneration to review the role the council should play in delivering affordable housing in the county.

“The council’s ambition is to deliver a portfolio of new council-owned housing of up to 1,000 units in a four-year period.

“The fact that the council is a significant landowner with partners already procured who can deliver quickly is attractive to Homes England.”

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Commissioning, procurement and assets cabinet member Gemma Davies said she was excited to see these proposals coming through.

She said she had previously struggled to get on the housing ladder.

“I was renting and the rent was so expensive I couldn’t raise the deposit.

“I think a lot of Herefordians are in the same position.”

Councillor Ellie Chowns said there was a particular problem with housing affordability in the housing and fuel poverty.

“We are going to address both of those issues and more with this project.”

Liberal Democrat group leader Terry James said he wholeheartedly supported the proposal However, Conservative group leader Jonathan Lester said there were other ways of achieving affordable housing in the county.

“We do not agree that it is time to go back to the days that housing services are owned or run by the council.

“Increasing the debt burden for the council is surely not the way to go.”

The cabinet unanimously approved the proposals.