A multi-million pound programme to provide hundreds more affordable homes in Leeds and bring empty properties back into use has got the go ahead.
Senior councillors have agreed that a £12.9m pot be created using contributions from the sale of council houses, the housing revenue account and new homes bonus – paid by the government for every new property built.
The money would be used in a number of ways and a report to the council’s Executive Board said the programme could provide 325 new homes.
Some of the money from council house sales could be used to provide grants to housing associations, which would then use their own borrowing powers to add to the cash available.
The homes would be owned and managed by the associations but would be available to people on the council’s housing waiting list.
New homes bonus money would be used to support the empty homes strategy.
It is estimated there are currently over 15,000 empty homes in Leeds – mostly in the private sector – and the council is keen to see as many of them as possible brought back into proper use.
Funds would be available for more enforcement and advice work, to tackle disrepair and deal with complex cases including those needing compulsory purchase orders.
A council draft planning strategy estimates 1,158 affordable homes a year are needed in Leeds, while the target for returning empty homes to use is 3,000 a year.
The report said: “The sources of investment the city has relied on in the past to meet housing needs have either significantly reduced or are funding streams that have come to an end.
“To meet the ambitions set out in the city priority plan and build up the city’s resilience to economic forces, it is important to take advantage of new opportunities in a creative and innovative way.
“Bringing together the resources of the council and its partners will be a catalyst to further investment.”
When rents and other income associated with the new affordable homes are taken into account, the net cost of the programme is estimated at £5.9m over 10 years.