Vote in favour of new homes in Bigbury

By Richard Harding   |   Kingsbridge and Ivybridge reporter   |
Friday 3rd December 2021 4:13 pm
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South Hams District Councillors have voted to progress the St Ann’s Chapel scheme.

If it receives final approval, it will mean eight affordable houses will be built for rental below market rates. These new homes could be available by late 2023.

Two months after declaring a housing crisis, South Hams District Council is reviewing what has been achieved so far to help address the situation.

The £4.2million scheme would provide much needed affordable homes at the site near Bigbury and review the delivery of new housing projects.

The local shortage of rented accommodation at costs that residents can realistically afford is one of the main reasons a housing crisis was declared in the South Hams. This shortage is most keenly felt in coastal areas where many properties have been switched from long-term lets to more financially lucrative holiday lets.

Cllr Judy Pearce, South Hams District Council Executive Member for Housing said: “We’ve declared a housing crisis but now we need to put our words into action and take positive steps to do something about it. The St Ann’s Chapel scheme is a great example of this. We know Air BnB and rising property costs have slashed the number of properties available to rent and pushed up rental prices. Here we have the opportunity to take direct action to build new properties local people can afford. We know we need more but this is a positive step forward. I hope this will bring some relief to those people out there who are finding it so hard to find a suitable home in their local area.”

In September, the Council adopted a new long-term corporate strategy that put housing at its heart called Better Lives for All. This strategy has identified four key areas of housing need in the district: single households, families, households with additional needs and rough sleepers.

At a meeting on December 2, the Executive Committee will be asked to approve plans to develop a new Homelessness strategy. This will replace the current strategy which expires in April 2022. A public consultation and close discussions with key local stakeholders is proposed for early 2022. The results of the consultation will help shape the priorities for tackling homelessness over the coming five years.

As part of the report on homelessness, Councillors will also debate plans to purchase five properties that will be used to offer emergency accommodation. This will ensure that the most vulnerable local people and families have better access to safe, comfortable housing. The purchase would be part-funded with a grant from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities following the Council’s successful bid under the Rough Sleeper Accommodation Programme. The plans are to purchase four one-bedroom properties as well as an additional family-size property.

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