Social housing bill tops £1.8m

HUNTINGDONSHIRE has earmarked £1.875million for social housing over the coming year to help keep up with the demand for affordable homes. However, the district council is likely to need a further £800,000 in the following two years to pay for social housi

HUNTINGDONSHIRE has earmarked £1.875million for social housing over the coming year to help keep up with the demand for affordable homes.

However, the district council is likely to need a further £800,000 in the following two years to pay for social housing scheme which are due to be completed.

With 2,150 households on the housing register, the district needs to develop 585 social rented homes a year to meet demand.

A further 470 homes are needed annually to help families into the housing market through schemes such as shared equity, where they rent part of their home until they can afford a mortgage for the full price.

Councils and social landlords across the country, including Luminus Group, Accent Nene and Muir in Huntingdonshire, are preparing to bid to the Housing Corporation later this year for Government cash to fund building work for the next three years.

RSLs (registered social landlords) submitted bids for Huntingdonshire projects costing £20million when the corporation last allocated cash two years ago. They were given just £7million.

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This year's bid is expected to exceed £27million. If the allocation from the Housing Corporation were in the same proportion as last time, it would leave the RSLs needing to find a further £16million to fund the projects fully, Councillor Deborah Reynolds told the district council's cabinet last week.

With £585,000 already allocated for 2007/08, the cabinet last week agreed to release a further £1.29million for social housing this year, leaving £633,000 in the pot for 2008/09 and £144,000 in 2009/10 as projects started this year are completed.

It also agreed to release a total of £787,000 for its contribution to other schemes, including:

* Additional lighting in parts of Oxmoor (£24,000);

* Upgrading CCTV from analogue to digital (£52,000);

* Transport initiatives in St Ives, St Neots and Brampton (£89,000);

* Safe cycle routes (£89,000);

* Cycleways in Huntingdon (£76,000);

* Additional bus shelters (£38,000)

* New public conveniences at St Ives bus station and Huntingdon riverside (£170,000);

* Improvements to Huntingdon bus station to accommodate the new contraflow bus lane on the ring road (£70,000);

* A feasibility study for improvements to St Ives town centre (£10,000);

* Small-scale transport improvements across the district (£84,000);

* Environmental improvements, including replacing paving in Kimbolton High Street (£53,000);

* Improved disabled access on highways and car parks (£32,000).

HDC is paying only part of the cost of most of these projects, with contributions coming from Cambridgeshire County Council and town or parish councils.

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