£2million pilot housing scheme

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A LONDON housing association is looking to invest £2million into St Leonards as part of a new scheme being run with Hastings Borough Council.

Mindful of the fact that the town’s regeneration coffers are running low, Local Space approached the council with proposals to stump up the cash to buy privately owned homes in the Carisbrooke Road area.

These will then be refurbished and rented out, with the local authority being given a say on who is allowed to move into the spruced up homes.

Then, a few years down the line, Local Space will sell the homes, presumably once the area has improved and house prices increased.

Councillors discussed the plans during a meeting last week, with the general consensus being that the authority was right to explore new ways of improving the local housing stock now external funding had ended.

And Cllr Matthew Beaver was one of many to welcome the influx of outside money. “If someone wants to offer up £2million to spend on local housing then we should welcome them with open arms.”

He did however voice concerns that St Leonards did not fall foul of a repeat of the 1970s where London councils sent their “undesirables” to Hastings.

And his Conservative colleague Peter Finch slammed “the bedsit world” which had taken over the area in Central St Leonards - arguing for safeguards against more sub-standard homes springing up.

Cllr Jeremy Birch, leader of Hastings Borough Council, went a long way to allaying those fears, stressing that the authority would have a big control over who the homes would be let to.

He said: “This is about creating a more sustainable community in St Leonards. It is not about bedsits for people who stay for a few months then move on but bigger homes with better control over how the homes are run.”

The scheme will now be piloted in Carisbrooke Road and, if successful, rolled out elsewhere in St Leonards.