Ipswich: Work begins on only 50 new homes in a year
09:00 11 January 2013
THE dramatic slow down in construction in Ipswich was today laid bare after government figures revealed that work began on only FIFTY new homes in the town during the last financial year.
The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) statistics have prompted the Labour leader of the borough to claim that new council homes were “the only show in town”.
The revelation came as the government announced it was making £1.25million available to the borough through the “New Homes Bonus” to encourage more new properties to be built.
The DCLG figures show that 290 new homes were completed in Ipswich in 2011/12, including 90 “affordable homes” – but no new social housing build projects started during the year.
The borough is currently planning to build a total of 120 new council houses on three sites in the town – and council leader David Ellesmere said the figures showed how vital these were.
“We are the only organisation currently geared up to begin new housing projects,” he said.
“The largest development is at Bader Close. The council tried to find a private sector developer to take that on and build homes but no one was interested so we are going ahead and doing it ourselves.
“It was called a ‘vanity project’ by (Conservative MP) Ben Gummer, but the fact is we are the only show in town.”
Mr Ellesmere said the figures showed the importance of getting the Northern Fringe masterplan drawn up and started on.
Mr Gummer said the New Homes Bonus should encourage more affordable homes to be built.
He said: “I am delighted that the government is continuing to focus on house building. Some of the work I do as Ipswich’s MP involves finding homes for people who do not have a permanent address, so I know how important increasing the housing stock in Ipswich is.
“I am especially pleased that the New Homes Bonus gives extra incentives for councils to build affordable housing.”
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THE borough council has launched a new drive to bring empty homes back into use.
“Report it empty” allows members of the public to make the council aware of properties they believe have remained unoccupied for more than six months.
Borough housing spokesman John Mowles said: “We are determined to tackle empty homes in the town. Most could be brought back into use to house families in need of accommodation and we offer advice and support to owners.
“We don’t want to see homes remain empty for any longer than is absolutely necessary. The advice and incentives will, we would hope, be sufficient to achieve this in the majority of cases.
“However, the council does have Compulsory Purchase Powers (CPO) that can be pursued if necessary and we are prepared to take that path as a last resort if all else fails.”