Lincoln council proposes affordable housing investment

The City of Lincoln Council’s Executive is to consider plans to invest in more affordable housing in the city.

With around 3,000 people in the waiting list for a council home, the authority is considering different ways to increase the supply of affordable homes.

The council, which maintains around 8,000 properties, is proposing a two-fold approach, combining an investment in existing housing with a strategy for building more homes.

Just 69 new affordable homes were built in the last three years, compared to 259 in the preceding two years.

In the same three-year-period, 91 council homes were lost through the government’s Right to Buy scheme.

To address this, a series of recommendations are to be discussed by the Executive, which include:

Investment in existing housing:

  • Agree the proposed Lincoln Property Standard to ensure high standards for all council homes
  • Develop a plan covering the investment needs of all council housing so that it is in line with the proposed standards
  • Set aside a budget of £80,000 from the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) to fund feasibility studies on current stock that may not warrant continued investment and where tenants may be better served by refurbishment or redevelopment

New build strategy:

  • Approve an initial budget of £250,000 to allow the council to negotiate and bid for land
  • Create a new company funded outside the HRA to give the council greater flexibility in its efforts to build more homes and to explore the possibility of leasing properties from external investors
  • Establish a budget of up to £75,000 for financial and legal support in setting up the company
  • Develop a partnership strategy with Housing Associations to make Lincoln a more attractive location to invest in for affordable housing

The proposed investment is in addition to the Council House Building Programme agreed last year – a £15 million investment to build 150 council homes.

Councillor Ric Metcalfe, leader of the city council, said: “There is clearly a shortage of affordable homes to rent and buy within the city and we are keen to intervene in the wider housing market to provide more low-cost housing and help drive up standards in the private rented sector.

“Good quality, affordable housing is vital to the local economy and to the well-being of residents. The problems of getting onto the housing ladder are well-known nationally and in Lincoln the average house price is five times the average income.

“The cost of private renting is such that it is extremely difficult for people to afford, let alone keep a roof over their heads and save for a deposit.

“Although the council already manages 8,000 council homes, unfortunately we are limited by the HRA. Our resources there are fully committed to maintaining and improving the stock we already have and we need to ensure we’re setting aside enough funds to do that.

“One of the most promising options would be to establish a company, wholly owned by the council, able to use resources outside the HRA. This would allow us to invest in more affordable housing.”

The Executive will discuss the recommendations at a meeting on Monday, July 13 at City Hall.