Land owned by Fenland District Council could be sold off to developers to help boost numbers of affordable homes

LAND owned by Fenland District Council could be sold off to developers to help boost numbers of affordable homes.

A detailed audit of the local authority’s land assets is to be carried out from today (Monday, July 16) just a few weeks after Council Leader Alan Melton promised to discuss “radical steps” to reverse an 87 per cent shortfall in the number of affordable homes built in 2011/12.

Officers will also team up with builders to seek funding from the Government’s Get Britain Building investment programme and will hold talks with the Homes and Communities Agency about attracting more money into Fenland.

“Other moves include sharing details about land availability with housing associations and working closely together with developers to ensure that sites remain viable,” a Council spokesman added.

The steps are to be taken following the revelation that only 15 new affordable homes were built in Fenland last year - even though the target was 112.

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Mr Melton said he was horrified by the figure and that it had spurred him into action.

“I and my colleagues are fully aware of the constraints being experienced by developers and the industry in general,” he said at the Fenland Building and Design Awards last week.

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“We have expectations far wider than just the provision of affordable homes.

“I am stretching my arms out wide. I am inviting you, agents, landowners, builders, developers, housing providers and the public sector to come forward, bring us your ideas and schemes.”

Cllr Melton’s colleague Kit Owen, the authority’s portfolio holder responsible for housing, called a meeting with FDC members and officers as well as representatives from Roddons and Sanctuary housing associations last Friday (July 13).

Developers and agents also joined in on the meeting to examine the problems with building affordable homes and find ways to overcome them.

Cllr Owen said: “It was a very helpful and constructive discussion.”

He said the affordable housing situation was a “national problem, not one confined to Fenland” and said it was “caused largely by the general economic crisis”.

“There are not easy answers,” he added.

“Many different ideas were put forward and as a matter of urgency we will now be looking at which ones can realistically be pursued.”

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