£119m plan for 1,000 affordable homes

Crawley council leader Peter Lamb at the town hall. Pic Steve Robards  SR1607165 SUS-160103-114225001
Crawley council leader Peter Lamb at the town hall. Pic Steve Robards SR1607165 SUS-160103-114225001

The leader of Crawley Borough Council said it will spend £119.2m to build more than 1,000 new affordable homes and improve its housing stock.

The figure was included in the authority’s budget for 2016/17 which councillors agreed to at a meeting on Wednesday last week (February 24).

Cllr Peter Lamb (Lab, Northgate) said: “Our primary focus is going to be investing in new properties because that’s where the demand is.”

He added: “The £119m will build a lot of houses, just not as many as we need.

“It’s such a crisis in town that we can’t afford to play games any more.”

He said the council had to force developers to build more affordable homes. The £119m would mainly be used for new homes as council homes were already at a ‘good standard’.

The budget will also see a 0.77 per cent rise in the authority’s share of Council Tax - £1.44 a year for a Band D homes from April.

A council spokesman said Crawley’s was the lowest Council Tax rise in Sussex.

He said: “Crawley Borough Council’s 2016/17 budget protects frontline services, makes some savings and sees continuing investment in the town; this is despite a cut of almost 14 per cent in government funding and retained business rates.

“This represents a 3.1 per cent reduction in spending power – the second largest reduction in West Sussex.

“The council’s net budget to pay for its services in 2016/17 is £14.9m. The Government will give the council £3.66m so the amount raised through retained business rates and Council Tax will be £11.25m. The Government announced in July that housing rents will be reduced by one per cent in April 2016. This change means the council will have £148m less to invest in its housing stock over 30 years.”

West Sussex County Council is set to increase its element of Council Tax by 3.95 per cent and the precept for the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner will rise by 3.4 per cent.

The council will spend over the next three years: £8.8m to buy investment properties; £1,296,000 to expand the gym and replace the artificial turf pitch at K2 Crawley; £850,000 investment at Tilgate Park and its Nature Centre; £500,000 on installing solar panel on council buildings; and £30,000 to replace gym equipment at the Bewbush Centre.

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