Affordability fears raised over new council houses in Portsmouth

A FORMER health centre in the city will make way for 16 new council homes - but fears have been raised about their affordability.

Wednesday, 31st July 2019, 3:49 pm
Updated Wednesday, 31st July 2019, 4:07 pm
16 new council homes will be built in Portsmouth

Plans to build a mix of family houses and flats owned by Portsmouth City Council on the site of the disused Northern Parade Clinic in Hilsea were approved this week.

The £4.2m development in Doyle Avenue will include three four-bedroom disability adapted houses as well as nine two-bedroom flats and four three-bedroom houses.

However, it was revealed only half of them were likely to be rented as social homes with the rest as affordable.

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Labour councillor and housing activist Cal Corkery praised the design but voiced his concerns. Speaking at a housing cabinet meeting he said: 'If these were traditional social rent properties a three-bed place would be around £384 a month and a four-bed property is £461 a month.

'The definition of affordable is different so you could be looking at £578 for a three-bed and more than £1,000 for a four-bed, which is more than double.

'We need to think through what the implications of this are. It's quite possible a family with disabilities could move into an affordable home and it's fine while they have their disability benefits.

'A couple of months later their disability benefits could be taken away, as sometimes the Department for Work and Pensions are inclined to do. This puts them at risk of homelessness.'

Housing boss Councillor Darren Sanders confirmed that the rent levels would be reconsidered once the homes were built.

He said: 'The rent levels will be the lowest possible in line with the viability of the scheme. We've got to get these things built as quickly as possible and as good quality as possible.

'We need more family homes in the city and we need more family homes people can afford in the city. It's a lot of money but the cost of building new homes for people with physical disabilities costs a lot of money. Our tenants deserve the best.'

The disabled adapted homes will be allocated to specific families and specifically designed for their needs. Remaining units will be allocated through the council’s housing list.

Around £3m will be borrowed by the council for the project and the remaining £1.2m will come from right to buy receipts.