Government blames local authorities for lack of house building, but stopped us building council homes
Last week saw the "topping out" ceremony to mark the completion of the roofs on the latest new council houses we're building in Ipswich, writes borough council leader David Ellesmere.
This is a small development of five houses on a former garages site in Widgeon Close.
Work is also progressing well on another two houses in Ainslie Road.
The houses look great. They are roomier than many modern houses with plenty of space for storage.
As with our previous new council houses they are very well insulated and have solar panels to keep energy costs down. One new innovation is the installation of light wells to keep down the cost of lighting first floor spaces.
This is good news for tenants living in these houses and for the environment. It also makes sound business sense for the council as, the lower the cost of living, the less likely our tenants are to get into financial difficulties and have problems paying their rent.
This is something we need to be acutely aware of given the impending roll-out of Universal Credit to Ipswich which has led to a massive increase of rent arrears in other areas.
With only minor concessions on Universal Credit in the Budget last week, this is still likely to be the case.
We are also working on plans for around another 200 new houses. Some of these will be on smaller sites such as Widgeon Close but we are also working on two larger sites at the former Tooks bakery site and land at Ravenswood.
These two sites, accounting for around 150 homes, would have already been completed and occupied if it had not been for political interference by the Conservative Government.
They decreed – unbelievably, and against the advice of their own Planning Inspector – that the planning permission granted for 94 homes at Ravenswood could not be built because there was “too much affordable housing” and that we needed to build more expensive houses instead.
Working through the implications of this has added a big delay to our two large schemes.
And this Government has the gall to try and blame councils for the lack of house building in Britain!
- David Ellesmere is the leader of Ipswich Borough Council.