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Harlow Council unveil ambitious plans for close to 100 new council houses

General / Thu 17th Mar 2022 pm31 02:15pm

A MAJOR new quality housebuilding programme, which will see the construction of 99 council houses, apartments and bungalows over the next two years and plans for hundreds of more homes to follow, is set to be agreed by Harlow Council’s cabinet.

The new homes, built for Harlow families, will be constructed with industry leading technology and designs, in-line with the Gibberd principles and built in the “right places”. The new building programme has an ambition to be delivered by local SMEs and architects.



Commenting on one of the biggest housebuilding announcements set to be made by the council, Councillor Dan Swords, cabinet member for regeneration, said:

“Our proposed New House Building Programme will deliver the biggest council house-building programme for many years. We have already agreed as part of our Budget to invest £26 million towards a new programme and now we are going to build, build, build.

“Not only do we plan to be on site building 99 council homes all for council rent over the next two years, but we will revolutionise the way the council plans and builds homes, so we can carry on building council homes for many years to come. These new properties will be of the highest quality and will all be delivered with absolute value for money to the taxpayer.

“Our proposed programme will build the right homes in the right places and of the highest industry standards so we can truly improve the lives of Harlow families.”

Phase 1 of the New House Building Programme will see 99 new council homes built. These will all be let at council-rent to Harlow families and include new houses, flats and bungalows.

Phase 2 of the programme will see hundreds of new homes built across the town, with the aim to build new neighbourhoods that are fit for the future to meet the local housing need in Harlow.

The house building report will be discussed by Cabinet at its meeting on 24 March 2022. The agenda for the meeting is at:https://moderngov.harlow.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?MId=1373&x=1

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22 Comments for Harlow Council unveil ambitious plans for close to 100 new council houses:

Nicholas Taylor
2022-03-17 15:22:33

The agenda for this meeting alone runs to some 600 pages, can someone provided a list of where these new homes will be built so that residents can have a better understanding of what is going to be provided both in the short and long term, just how many homes will be provided and what 'long term' actually means. As with all these reports, what is needed is an executive summary, one which readers without specialist knowledge can easily read.

gary roberts
2022-03-17 15:25:22

Is it May the 1st or April the 1st? I suspect the latter sadly. With over four thousand on the council housing waiting list and with the promise of, as always, jam tomorrow I suspect this is political farce in readiness for the May local elections. If the council were serious, they would stop the right to buy council homes, will they? No: I have asked!

Mr Grumpy
2022-03-17 15:49:19

"These new properties will be of the highest quality" All new builds private or otherwise are simply "cheap & cheerful". Profit over quality is the modern way i'm afraid !!

Matthew 2
2022-03-17 16:47:12

Nicholas - location for the homes are available on the link in the article (Appendix B & C PDFs at number 10). They don't seem to offer much in the way of what types will be built where though

Connie
2022-03-17 16:59:04

Gary Roberts, it is not up to councils to stop the right to buy; that is enshrined on law and has remained so under both Conservative and Labour governments. This council was elected on promises such as: tax cut, regeneration and council house building. In 10 months they have delivered the tax cut and freeze on the HDC part. They have ring-fenced the town centre to stop ad hoc developments as a necessary condition to start the regeneration and they have passed a ground-breaking budget to build new council homes. All in 10 months v 10 years of Labour waste and failure. Check the facts.

Nicholas Taylor
2022-03-17 17:35:52

Thanks for the heads up Mathew 2. So readers lets look at the Tories so called 'house building boom' in more detail. The fact is that of the 99 homes, 16 are at Bushey Croft, 2 at The Hill and 7 at Yorkes, sites which the Labour Council had already set in motion. The sites at Elm Hatch (12 homes), Staple Tye Depot (9), Lister House (14) and Sherards House (16) were all identified as sites for development in Labour's Local Plan of December 2020. Other sites appear to have come forward from no-where, a Local Plan is supposed to be what it says, a Plan, giving residents assurances about where development will take place. So in reality this is nothing like a house building boom, it is just an extra 23 homes from what was already in the pipeline. All the homes will be welcome, but nothing has been said about what type will be built. Only the Harlow Alliance Party has said they should all be for older and impaired residents who could downsize, vacating their larger homes leaving them for families and ones which are outside of the RTB legislation. No fan of Labour of course but facts are facts.

Tony Durcan
2022-03-17 18:13:25

Really pleased to note all the projects set up by Labour are still on track. Sadly nothing new in this report but every council home is a bonus .

gary roberts
2022-03-17 19:24:05

Dear Connie, This council has delivered nothing yet to the residents of this town. Preparing documents, making speeches, claiming this or that: impresses no one. Action is needed with the funds to back it up. To date I have seen nothing of substance. For instance my area needs serious improvements on all fronts not an "estate development budget" that is little more than show. As for the right to buy council homes, please note that if it continues then many young single people or young couples will not have the opportunity that I and many others had many years ago. Both main political parties should show some backbone and stop it.

Kim Oconnor
2022-03-17 19:29:11

I've asked this question so many times, and again today with out no reply. Theses council houses you say your building, are they council , or are there housing association.??? There's a big difference. Housing association is private, you councils have been saying your building council, but are they?? 99 is just pitiful amount, up against thousands that are unaffordable to most. You councils have not given any thought s to people of this town waiting desperately for homes for such a long time, people living in private accommodation, halfway houses, people with children living with family ect ect no thoughts have been given to theses people, 0ver 4000 on waiting list. You councils, this government, is all about greed and profit s. And I'm talking about both sides of councils labour and this lot. 99 is pitiful. How you can glot about this . Your not thinking of people in this town at all, because we know the thousands of unaffordable builds you truly are building.

Jerry
2022-03-17 21:34:22

I wonder if it's still the council's to only house people on benefits as my son found out when applying to be put on the housing waiting list. They asked if he worked and when he replied he did he was told they could not help him and he would have to rent privately. Ironically housing people on benefits generates no income for the council. Total madness.

Tony Durcan
2022-03-18 08:43:30

We have been told both by the MP and the Tory local run council that the government have already given the council over £25 million to build new council homes. Not sure where this money is being hidden but nothing on any spreadsheet . So we get 26million and all they have produced is less council homes as planned in 2020. Not one new build started since they took over. Both Bushley Croft and the Hills are nearly completed,so can’t be included in the 26 million so called new money. This is another example of both the MP and his spin doctor spreading misinformation. I suspect you won’t trust them to tell you the time let alone the truth.

Iain
2022-03-18 10:26:19

Too many council properties are full of work-shy scroungers who have never lifted a finger and then stick a finger up at working people who pay taxes to house them. These vermin, along with all the alcoholics and druggies that are also taking up council properties and living off the state, should be removed from council properties and placed in labour camps, so freeing up council properties for decent working people who are prepared to pay rent on them.

Kim Oconnor
2022-03-18 11:38:21

lian, you should not put people in box's. No ones knows in this day an age what situation they will be in, today or tomorrow. There's a hole load of reasons why people find them self's in this situation. No job Divorced Single parent s. Mental health. Disabled. Ect, ect, ect. Never put people in box's, we all could be in theses situation s one day. Your out of order.

Clare Harrison McCartney
2022-03-18 12:21:28

What a lovely bloke Iain is, let’s hope he never has to be in the situations people dont ask to be in regarding benefits.” Let’s put them in labour camps” - what the hell Iain? Are you a nazi?

Clare Harrison
2022-03-18 12:22:20

Ps please build more bungalows. Thank you,

Danny Roberts
2022-03-18 12:25:41

I just want to know where all these new council houses that Kim O’Connor wishes to build are to be located. There is hardly any land left in Harlow. Council houses can only be built on council owned land. Harlow already has a higher volume of social housing than neighbouring districts. I tend to agree with Nicolas that new builds should be for the elderly only and laws should change that people living in council owned properties must move out if their circumstances change. If one owns one’s home, well of course, it is their right to decide to stay or downsize. However, that same right should not apply to people living in property owned by a public sector body. Council housing has to be treated as a privileged for the most needy and not an entitlement. The thresholds of eligibility need to be tight so that only those in genuine need are eligible. If a person/family can afford to rent privately or buy they should not be allowed to apply for council housing. That would certainly reduce the waiting list.

Nicholas Taylor
2022-03-18 14:05:57

Hi Danny, as a former council house manager with both Harlow Council and Epping Forest DC I can say there are a number of flaws with your argument. The fact is, most other councils would only be to pleased to have the number of homes that Harlow Council has and Councils already restrict their waiting lists to those most in need, in Harlow those with an income (or joint income) of less than £41k per year. In your scenario, at what level would you say residents should move on, what incentive would people have to improve their lot and move on, where are such homes and of course for many, they would just end up claiming housing benefit in a more expensive home. None of this is the answer, it does nothing to improve the lot of anyone other than private landlords. What is needed is far more council homes, there are less now than since the 1950's but the need is still there. As for where they could go, well the Council has a plan for over 200 to 300 homes in the pipeline but as yet are not making best use of the existing stock by encouraging residents to downsize their home.

Kim Oconnor
2022-03-18 14:08:45

Councils should of thought of the 4000 people waiting in this town a lone for affordable homes. Before hand. All theses private unaffordable housing is only for theses that can . afford them. My son privately rented for years, waiting on council accommodation, it's not a question of you can afford to rent privately, they had no choice as a young family, and it was very hard for them, and many in same boat. So your saying people that are breed and born in this town,if can afford, are not entitled to council. That's so not right, theses people don't have a choice, and doesn't leave them any money once payed every thing, it's a hand to mouth existence. And as to where do I think council houses should be build, on brown field, and stop all theses private unaffordable houses, then there will be room, if there going to take our green belt , let it be for people that truly need it., council for future generations, with no right to buy. What there doing now is mostly housing association which are not council, its private, but calling them council.

Susan Briggs
2022-03-18 16:09:24

How many of these so-called 4000 applicants are in genuine need. I know of people that are in council houses that are running their own businesses, others who are retired and widowed/single with 3 bedroom homes. Nicholas Taylor and Danny Roberts are right in saying that the focus should be on elderly people who should be required to move to free up homes for those truly in need. Building and maintaining council homes is a very expensive business. Why not use the private sector as other councils do. S council house represents: cost/value of land, build cost and then the ongoing maintenance cost. The time it takes to return this investment based on council rents could be nearly 50 years! Placing tenants in private accommodation is much more economic. Also, because of the expense, authorities with more social housing have higher council tax, which results in those on council homes often getting reduced tax as well as below market rent, placing ever more burden on those who own privately and do not get tax rebates. It is grossly unfair. Who wants to pay more taxes? The other problem is that with the right to buy, these houses will be sold at a discount so the council and taxpayers have a further loss. Building warden type properties for the elderly do not have the right to buy. This is the way forward and avoid heavy capital expenditure through using the private sector. Another possibility is to build houses in cheaper parts of the UK and offer these to Harlow residents. Other authorities also do this. I do not agree with Kim O’Connor that people ‘born and bred’ here acquire superior rights or entitlements. Anyone buying a property and moving here is a Harlow resident the same as anybody else. If people are buying these new developments they cannot be unaffordable. Developers do not build for homes to sit empty. I know some people in London selling up and buying two properties in places like Newhall (one to live and one to rent) and working mostly from home. This shows how cheap our property is compared to London. This trend is likely to continue. My own son, who works abroad has over the years bought 4 properties in Harlow, all of which are rented out. He says Harlow prices are incredibly cheap given our location and transport amenities.

Nicholas Taylor
2022-03-18 19:09:01

Just to say Susan, I am in no way saying that people living in larger Council homes should be made to move out, but there should be good quality, suitable accommodation for those who would like to move to a smaller home. At present there is not enough such accommodation and in the private sector such homes that do become available are often more expensive than the home a person wishes to downsize to. Council houses have always been funded by public money which is repaid, often over a 30 year or longer period. Council tax payers pay nothing towards council housing, the Housing Revenue Account funding council housing is paid for by rents, known as a ring fenced account since the mid 1980's. What you latterly described is exactly at the heart of the problem, homes are seen and are an investment, Ok for those who can afford it and hundreds of thousands are built each year, but a pitiful number are still being built by Councils for those who cannot afford to buy or need a specialist type of home. If you had come to work with me for just a week when I was employed by Harlow Council you would soon see where there is the real housing crisis, not at the top end of the market but at the bottom end.

Barry Denton
2022-03-19 04:36:41

The essential fact is that land is finite. We cannot just building more and more houses in Harlow. We already have one of the highest population densities in the region. We treasure our green spaces. We cannot have both. If supply is limited, those who can will buy or rent and those who can’t will eventually move to somewhere more affordable. It has happened with London and places like Cambridge. The market will correct itself and find its own balance. Just building more council houses which could then be bought under the right to buy is madness. No political party will change the right to buy as it is so popular and has allowed millions to become owners, create wealth and have a genuine stake in their community.

Nicholas Taylor
2022-03-19 09:17:13

As you say Barry, space in Harlow is limited, so there is a chronic need to make the best use of the resources that we have. At least 1500 of the larger homes in Harlow are occupied by just one or two people whilst at the same time there are 4000 applicants on the Councils Housing Register. Only the Harlow Alliance Party have a policy that would see every Council home built in the next ten years being a modern bungalow and/or home suitable for older or impaired residents, which with specific services means that they could not subsequently be sold. This would give residents a better choice when considering downsizing to a home, one that is easier to maintain and cheaper to heat. A proactive allocation policy would see hundreds of families and individuals obtaining homes more suited to their needs. With a growing elderly population in the town, this issue is set to get worse Other benefits include spending less on adapting homes, a better chance of reducing bed blocking at the hospital and reducing the number of residents confined to living on the ground floor of their house. Don't forget, you heard it here first!

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