To consider the award of an affordable housing grant to South Lakes Housing to support the purchase and improvement of six homes at Railway Cottages, Newby Bridge.
The Deputy Leader and Housing and Innovation Portfolio Holder reported that South Lakes Housing was seeking an affordable housing grant of £282,000 to support the purchase and improvement of six homes at Railway Cottages, Newby Bridge. Subject to approval of the grant of an award and the required legal agreement being signed, South Lakes Housing would undertake to improve the homes to a decent standard. It was anticipated that the purchase of the homes would prevent homelessness of potentially very vulnerable tenants, providing suitable homes to a decent standard and improved security of tenure.
In presenting the report, the Deputy Leader and Housing and Innovation Portfolio Holder wished to point out that this case differed to that relating to Yewbarrow Lodge in Grange-over-Sands, which was a sheltered housing unit in a unique location, with difficult access.
Shadow Executive Member, Councillor John Holmes, who was a Director on the Board of South Lakes Housing, explained that although the proposal would not add to the affordable housing offer within the area, consideration had to be given to the potential for the existing residents becoming homeless. He reported on the deplorable conditions of the houses in which vulnerable adults were living. He further drew attention to the fact that Homes England had given approval for grant funding. Councillor Holmes also referred to Yewbarrow Lodge. He explained that residents of Yewbarrow Lodge could be moved to similar accommodation in Windermere. He stressed that South Lake’s Housing’s paramount concern was with regard to the existing tenants of Yewbarrow Lodge. He advised that proceeds from a sale of the site would be put towards provision of affordable homes.
Note – At this point in the proceedings, Councillor John Holmes, having declared a non-pecuniary interest by virtue of the fact that he was a Director on the Board of South Lakes Housing, whilst having no voting rights as a Member of the Shadow Cabinet, left the Chamber for the discussion and voting on the item.
Members expressed full support for what was a good example of partnership working to improve housing stock within the area and thanking all involved.
RESOLVED – That approval be given for the award of an affordable housing grant of £282,000 to South Lakes Housing and the Director of Strategy, Innovation and Resources be delegated authority, in consultation with the Legal, Governance and Democracy Lead Specialist (Monitoring Officer), to conclude the necessary agreements for the grant funding.
Reasons for Decision
The preferred means of providing financial support is through a grant. The Council is developing a loan funding product to enable greater delivery of new build affordable homes by Registered Providers. For this particular instance of acquisition and refurbishment, it is considered that it best fits with the Council’s affordable housing grants scheme.
To assist in the delivery of the Council Plan – Homes to Meet Need and target for 1,000 homes to rent by 2025.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
The Council could decide not to fund the acquisition of these units for affordable rent. However, this is not recommended as this is not in line with the Council’s target for 1000 homes for affordable rent by 2025 and it is likely that the existing residents, many of whom are vulnerable, could be made homeless as a result of the properties being sold.