Affordable homes plan for Arlesey

A new council-owned housing company in Central Bedfordshire aims to increase the amount of affordable homes available locally.

Eight sites were revealed at a meeting of the council’s corporate resources overview and scrutiny committee.

The population of Central Bedfordshire has risen by 15,000 in the last four years, and the local authority is expecting it to rise further, according to councillor Eugene Ghent.

“There is a shortfall in the demand and supply of new affordable homes,” he told the committee.

“Over the last four years, 13 per cent of affordable has been delivered against a target of 30,” he said.

“Developers use a viability argument to reduce the level of affordable housing they can deliver.”

The council’s development manager Elaine Bradbury said the next steps were gaining planning permission, site evaluation and work to look at the type and tenure of the units required for the eight sites.

“Chase Farm at Arlesey is the huge site where we have planning permission for 950 units,” she said.

“We’re just looking at phase one at the moment, land to the north of the site.

“The sale of that part of the site wouldn’t be dependent on the link road being delivered.

“We are looking potentially to sell the site in the market, but retain the right for the council to keep or to develop itself the affordable 40 units.”

Councillor Paul Duckett said: “The housing market is indisputably failing in Central Bedfordshire, unless you’re a developer developing executive homes in which case it’s doing very well indeed for you.

“We had those sites available for an HRA bid and it’s great to see that all that hard work hasn’t gone to waste.

“And it’s accelerated our delivery of affordable homes for people who want to live and work here,” added councillor Duckett, who chairs the committee.

“We’re being asked to give our strong support for the direction of travel and the speed with which this entire project is starting to materialise.

“We do need affordable homes. I think it is a positive step forward and we as a committee wholly endorse the recommendation to executive.”