Leeds council homes’ £10 million go-ahead

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A major building project to boost the number of council properties in Leeds has been approved, as part of a bid to stem the effects of the Government’s new ‘bedroom tax’ on thousands of families.

The city council has drawn up a hit list of 10 areas which are in line for an injection of new local authority-owned housing stock.

These include inner city areas in Bramley, Armley, Beeston, Gipton, Cross Green and East End Park.

Some of the areas targeted were previously earmarked for regeneration, but work was mothballed after funding cuts in 2010.

The proposal which was yesterday given the green-light from senior councillors approved the start of a £10 million council-house building programme over the next three years.

It would initially pay for the building of 105 new properties.

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Latest estimates suggest around 6,700 council tenants will be affected by the so-called ‘bedroom tax’ element of the Welfare Reform Act, which will see housing benefit slashed for working-age tenants in council or housing association homes, where tenants are considered to have more bedrooms than they need.

Leeds’s population is predicted to increase from around 755,000 to more than 860,000 in 2028. A report presented to the council’s executive board yesterday said: “The council’s strategy clearly recognises the challenges associated with meeting the needs of an ageing and growing population in appropriate locations particularly with respect to the quality, type and affordability of homes.

“While current and anticipated demand for one-bedroomed accommodation is high, intelligence tells us that this is the result of local and national policy, the council’s letting policy and impending welfare reforms, rather than aspiration.

“Homes built to address current needs should be of a design and standard flexible enough that over their lifetime, they continue to meet aspirations in the event that occupation restrictions change as a result of change of social policy”. Councillor Peter Gruen, executive member for neighbourhoods, planning and support services for Leeds City Council, said: “We recognise that there is currently a shortage of one-bedroom properties. The plans for building new council houses in Leeds respond to this demand.

“We have told the Government that welfare cuts, in particular the bedroom tax, will undoubtedly create massive issues from April onwards.”