Council joins forces to build new homes
NEW houses could be built by a local authority for the first time in 20 years.
Newcastle Borough Council is teaming up with Aspire Housing to create affordable homes in communities across the borough.
The project would see the two organisations sharing land, staff and expertise.
A joint feasibility study is now being carried out before more detailed plans are developed in the summer.
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Both the council and Aspire insist that residents will be consulted about any scheme before construction starts.
It is not known how many homes will be built, but work on the first properties could begin as early as next spring.
Councillor Eddie Boden, cabinet member for planning, regeneration and town centres at the borough council, said some homes would be sold while others would be rented out by Aspire.
He said: "We don't yet have a minimum or maximum number of houses in mind. This is something we have to do in order to meet the demand for affordable housing.
"With the bedroom tax coming into force in April, there will be a demand for smaller homes, which is one of the things this project will look to address."
The council earmarked 20 parcels of land for housing in its asset management strategy published earlier this year.
They include plots in Hillport Ave, Porthill, Heathcote Street, Kidsgrove, Church Lane, Knutton, Market Drayton Road, Loggerheads, and Bower End Lane, Madeley.
Mr Boden said the project could involve these council-owned sites, as well as sites belonging to Aspire. Both organisations are looking at a number of options for raising capital. These could include accessing external funding or selling off other pieces of land.
Mr Boden added: "This is a very exciting project and we believe that by working with Aspire we can breathe new life into some of our communities.
"It is many years since this council was involved directly in house building so we are turning the clock back."
Aspire Housing took over the council's social housing stock in 2000 and now has more than 20,000 tenants in total across North Staffordshire and South Cheshire. Will Nixon, deputy chief executive of the Aspire Group said: "We have an excellent record on delivering local regeneration projects and we believe that by working closely with the council we can make a positive difference to benefit people."
Belinda Mifflin, chairman of Westlands, Clayton and Seabridge Residents' Association, campaigned against earlier council plans to sell off green space for housing.
She said: "If this housing is built in the right place, on brownfield sites, it will be a good thing. We do need more affordable housing in Newcastle, as there are so many young people struggling to get on the property ladder."