Kettering Council pledges to build more homes

Kettering Council has pledged to build more homes and renovate its existing housing stock.

The moves comes after the authority has decided to dismiss the idea of setting up a local housing company, a scheme which is being taken up by scores of local authorities across the country.

Local housing companies are independent arms-length commercial organisations wholly or partly owned by councils.

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They can develop, buy and manage properties within and outside of a local authority area.

Speaking at the research and development committee meeting last night (Sept 18) the council’s head of housing John Conway said: “For the time being the best way forward is the two pronged approach.

“Invest in existing stock and build new housing.”

Earlier this year the authority had commissioned management consultants Campbell Tickell, using a grant from the LGA housing advisers programme to look into the feasibility of setting up a local housing company.

However after an in-depth look at Kettering’s housing market and the land owned by the council the consultants have advised against the option.

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They said: “In our view developing a market rent portfolio will be challenging for the council based on land values and average construction costs, especially in the short to medium term.”

John Conway told councillors: “If you’re a council with large land holdings then it is quite an attractive idea.  

“But if you have to buy land it does not work.

“Although we do own land it is quite small little parcels.”

The council has 3,800 homes in its housing stock with 30 per cent being built pre-World War II.

Under its Homes for the Future scheme they recently spent £1.5m remodelling the 1927 Montrose House into 18 modern flats.

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It also has plans for other revamps of housing stock in Desborough and Rothwell and is looking at building new homes at a number of sites including at the long-neglected Lawrence site in Desborough.

Like all councils in north Northamptonshire the council has struggled to have enough temporary accommodation for the soaring numbers of homeless families in the borough.

It spent £1.1m in the 2017/18 financial year on temporary accommodation for those who had lost their homes.

A review of housing across the Kettering borough has shown that 66 per cent of homes are owner occupied, five per cent are owned by housing associations, nine per cent belong to the local authority and 20 per cent are private rented.

Mr Conway said the number of private rented properties has increased from six per cent in 2000.

Sarah Ward, Local Democracy Reporting Service