Council could buy-up land to tackle homelessness

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Council could buy-up land to tackle homelessness

'Stalled' housing development sites could be compulsorily purchased by a council to provide more affordable housing - in a bid to tackle a growing homelessness problem.

The measure is one of a series of bold proposals Rother District Council is considering, as figures show the number of homeless people seeking help in the district has almost doubled in three years.

The council is asking for feedback on its draft housing and homelessness strategy, which proposes measures to prevent and reduce homelessness and increase the supply and quality of affordable housing.

Other measures could include setting up a social lettings agency to boost availability of affordable homes, creating a street homelessness 'hub' in Bexhill and offering incentives to owners to bring vacant properties back into use.

Cllr Joy Hughes, cabinet member for housing, welfare and equalities, said: "The difficult economic climate in recent years means in Rother, as around the country, homelessness is a growing problem.

"We urgently need more affordable housing and buying up land which has planning permission for housing but has been lying idle for more than a year is one way this could be achieved.

"The scale of the problem means we need to consider some quite bold and innovative proposals, but it's important we get people's feedback before the final strategy is agreed.

"I'd urge anyone who lives or works in Rother and who has an interest in this issue to take 10 minutes to take part in our consultation, and help shape how we tackle this vital issue in the years to come."

A review carried out by the council found the number of applications for homelessness support increased from 112 in 2014-15 to 216 in 2017-18, and identified a particular need for affordable rented accommodation.

Other measures proposed in the draft strategy include creating a homelessness forum to deliver measures to prevent people becoming homeless and setting up a housing company to acquire emergency or temporary accommodation for those in need.

The results of the consultation will be taken into account when a finalised version of the housing and homelessness strategy goes to cabinet and full council for approval early next year.

People can take part in the consultation, which runs until Monday, November 26 2018, at www.rother.gov.uk/housing-consultation

Feedback can also be given by emailing consultations@rother.gov.uk, writing to Housing Strategy Consultation, POP Team, Acquisitions, Transformation & Regeneration, Rother District Council, Town Hall, Bexhill TN39 3JX or dropping it in at community help points at the Town Hall, at Market Square, Battle, or Rye Library.

Published on Tuesday, October 23 2018
 

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