Council commits to providing affordable homes for key workers in Bucks

Bucks Council’s cabinet has agreed to find ways of providing more social housing for the next generation to be able to live and work in Buckinghamshire.

By Hannah Richardson
Wednesday, 11th May 2022, 1:10 pm

At a meeting yesterday, cabinet agreed to identify at least one council-owned plot of land for the construction of affordable and key worker housing.

Potential sites include the former Sports and Social Club in Stoke Mandeville.

It also agreed to look at acquiring homes from private house builders to accommodate key workers, and to review and catalogue empty homes and explore how to bring them back into use.

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Council leader Martin Tett at the meeting

The cabinet was discussing a report by the Affordable Housing Task and Finish Group, set up following a motion by Buckingham ward councillor Robin Stuchbury, where he asked for a feasibility study to assess the business case for developing more local authority-owned social housing.

Addressing council in December 2020, Cllr Stuchbury said: “It’s essential that good-quality housing is available at affordable rents. We are all aware that Buckinghamshire is a very expensive place to live, leading to serious hurdles in recruiting key workers such as teachers and GPs.

“This has a negative effect on the wellbeing of our residents.

“By providing good-quality social housing at affordable rent, we can ensure this trend is reversed.”

Councillor Robin Stuchbury

The new report recognises “an acute shortage of housing in terms of socially rented housing, affordable rent and rented key worker accommodation” in Bucks, with nearly 4,800 households on Bucks Home Choice seeking social housing, but only about 1,500 lettings made annually.

By far the majority of the housing need it identifies is in the former Aylesbury Vale District Council (AVDC) area, with the greatest need being for one-bedroom homes.

Speaking at yesterday’s cabinet meeting, council leader Martin Tett said the delivery of affordable housing is “always a challenge… because everybody thinks it’s a great idea, but as long as it’s not on the site next to them”.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Stuchbury said: “After taking the motion to council in December 2020, it’s immensely rewarding and pleasing that that motion passed unanimously, and it is encouraging beyond belief that we’re actually now going to start looking at using council property and creating more affordable accommodation and housing key workers in all the vital services.”