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Ambitious house building plans approved by Powys County Council

AMBITIOUS plans to build 310 Powys County Council houses by 2028 have been unanimously approved by councillors who hope that they can do even more.

This could help address the huge need for housing in the county, which saw 4,718 people on the council’s housing list at the end of December.

At a meeting of the council’s cabinet on Tuesday, March 28, deputy council leader and housing portfolio holder, Cllr Matthew Dorrance set out the proposals that will see  £159 million invested in council housing over the next five years.

Cllr Matthew Dorrance

This will become part of the Housing Revenue Account’s (HRA) rolling 30-year business plan.

The 310 new council homes by 2027-28 as part of an investment package worth almost £79 million by the Liberal Democrat/Labour/Green ruling coalition.

By the end of 2031, it is hoped that these figures will rise to 350.

The report explained that the £80 million will be invested in several schemes to make improvements to existing council homes.

This includes £31 million to ensure that the council’s housing stock meet the Welsh Government’s Welsh Housing Quality Standard which requires houses to be in a good condition.

Cabinet member for a connected Powys, Cllr Jake Berriman said: “Our demand for housing is stretching, we are doing all we can with the homes that we’re building and that’s not yet going to be enough to meet the demand.

“To what extent do you think that in the next 12 to 18 months we have headroom to look again at that target and stretch ourselves further?”

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Cllr Dorrance said: “We think the target we have set within this HRA business plan is realistic and achievable.

“We’re not the only social housing provider in Powys, there are others.

“We work with eight others as part of the strategic housing partnership to help them bring forward proposals.

“But when opportunity arises, grant funding enables and our resources allow us to stretch, we can go further and I’m committed and up for that challenge.”

The proposal has already been scrutinised by the Economy, Residents and Communities scrutiny committee which is chaired by Liberal Democrat, Cllr Angela Davies.

Cllr Angela Davies

This was in an “informal” secret meeting held on March 20.

Committee chairwoman, Cllr Angela Davies said: “We were presented with very robust and thorough papers in reviewing this matter.

“We were pleased to hear that the council is adhering to all the latest legislation and that tenant were engaging with the process.”

Cllr Davies also said that the committee were pleased to hear that the council was reviewing the condition of its housing stock.

Cllr Davies said: “We were very surprised to hear of the changing and increasing demand for housing and the challenge in meeting that is no small matter.”

She added that the committee “were pleased” that the council is looking at town centres and garage spaces to see if buildings can be re-purposed.

Other measures that will be funded include in the HRA business plan are:

£9.3 million to make sure all council homes and associated assets are 100 per cent compliant with all relevant and applicable legislation and regulation.

£15.6 million to increase fuel efficiency in council homes, reduce fuel poverty, help cut carbon emissions and tackle climate change.

£6.8 million to make council homes better suited to the needs of older people and those with health-related needs that affect their mobility.

£7.9 million to improve the wellbeing of communities through improvements to council homes and estates.