Slow uptake of shared ownership schemes

ONLY one shared ownership home was sold in Ipswich over more than a year - although 109 were built according to new figures from the borough.Now housing chiefs are hoping to persuade developers and housing associations to convert some of the shared ownership homes into rented properties - of which there is an increasing shortage in the town.

ONLY one shared ownership home was sold in Ipswich over more than a year - although 109 were built according to new figures from the borough.

Now housing chiefs are hoping to persuade developers and housing associations to convert some of the shared ownership homes into rented properties - of which there is an increasing shortage in the town.

During the financial year 2005/6 a total of 87 shared-ownership homes - 64 flats and 23 houses - were built in Ipswich.

Between April and August last year a further 22 flats were completed.

But only one property, part of the Centrum development near Ipswich station, was sold as in a shared-ownership deal.

Ipswich council housing spokesman Steven Wells said the figures were disappointing, and the council was hoping the homes would soon be occupied.

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He said:“More effort is being put into marketing these shared ownership homes - you see adverts saying how reasonable they are.

“And we are talking about converting some of these properties into rental properties because there remains an acute need for high-quality rental homes in Ipswich.”

Labour leader David Ellesmere said the figures showed it made no sense to allow developers to go ahead with building shared ownership homes.

“What we need in Ipswich is more high-quality homes for rent, especially large family homes. There remains a serious shortage of this kind of accommodation in the town.”

Mr Ellesmere said the figures showed just how difficult it was to sell shared-ownership properties.

“The fact is that people who cannot afford to buy a home cannot afford a shared-ownership property. There is little sense in allowing more to be built when what is really needed is homes for rent,” he said.

How shared ownership works:

Home-buyers who cannot afford to buy their own property are given the opportunity to buy a proportion, often 50 per cent, of their home.

The rest is rented from a housing association - and rents are much lower than mortgage payments.

If mortgage payments on a flat would normally be £600 a month, and rent through a housing association would be £400 a month, under a shared ownership scheme the occupier would pay £300 on the mortgage and £200 a month rent, a total of £500.

However in Ipswich many of the payments for a shared ownership property are higher than they would be for a mortgage on a small terraced house.