Rents could rise to build new homes

w2671b030 Free swimming petition - Lightwaves. Pricilla Whisker and Mary Creagh.
w2671b030 Free swimming petition - Lightwaves. Pricilla Whisker and Mary Creagh.

A CONTROVERSIAL plan to hike social housing rents could fund 400 new homes in the district.

But the Wakefield and District Housing (WDH) scheme will do little to tackle a waiting list of 25,000 after social housing budgets were slashed by the government, city MP Mary Creagh said.

WDH is planning to build 400 homes during the next four years under the Affordable Rents scheme, new legislation which allows for higher rents to pay for new properties.

The new rules mean housing associations can increase rents to up to 80 per cent of the private sector market value of homes, a move which could increase some WDH tenancies by hundreds of pounds a year.

Ms Creagh said: “The next four years will see a collapse in the supply of affordable housing across the country. The WDH plans have not yet been approved by government but our district will require a lot more than 100 new homes a year to tackle our housing crisis.”

The scheme also allows landlords to convert existing empty properties into Affordable Rent homes with the higher rents.

But Rick Parkin, WDH’s executive director of regeneration, said yesterday: “Existing tenants are not affected by the new proposals.”

WDH has submitted plans to the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), the government agency which would fund the new homes.

Mr Parkin said: “WDH has more than 25,000 people wanting accommodation. Throughout all our consultation processes the main priority has been to build new homes.

“Under new government rules WDH can only build new homes if it signs up to building them at affordable rents, which is equivalent of 80 per cent of market rents.

“WDH has submitted plans, agreed by the council, to build 100 new homes each year for the next four years. These proposals have yet to be agreed by the HCA and if agreed will bring in over £50m of new investment into the district.”