As Executive Board Member for Neighbourhoods, Planning and Support Services, I feel it is necessary to respond to your editorial ‘£10m Homes Cash will only scratch the surface’ (YEP, January 10).
One of the council’s top priorities is to increase the number of new homes being built, including increasing the number of new affordable homes. We also aspire to add to the number of long term empty homes being brought back into use.
The £10m funding investment programme – which will result in the construction of approximately 105 new affordable homes – is only one of a range actions the council is taking. For example, in the Affordable Homes programme the council is working in partnership with the Homes & Communities Agency and Housing Associations to deliver approximately 750 new affordable homes in Leeds between 2011 and 2015.
Through proactive intervention 3,000 empty homes were brought back into use in Leeds in 2011/12.
The council is actively working in partnership with other housing providers and the third sector to find new and innovative ways of reducing the number of empty homes. Following on from the Call to Action on Leeds Empties the council is working with in partnership with Social Business Brokers in an attempt to bring yet more houses into use.
Furthermore, in September 2012 the council’s Executive Board identified additional resources to invest in private sector housing, specifically in focussing activity on empty homes.
I can reassure you that this administration recognises the importance of sustainable development in the city, not only in terms of delivering homes and jobs for local people but also in terms of future income generation.
No-one should underestimate the scale of the financial challenge currently facing Leeds City Council – we must save £51m in 2013/14 on top of the £145m of savings we have already achieved.
From a housing perspective, there is no doubt that delivering affordable, high quality housing is a central part of our ambitions.
However, in order to deliver those ambitions our financial circumstances mean we must look for ever more innovative ways to get the most out the resources we have available to us.
I believe the projects listed above are good examples of the first steps towards achieving that.
Councillor Peter Gruen, Leeds City Council Executive Member for Neighbourhoods, Planning and Support Services