A SPECIAL decade-long project which has seen 600 homes made fit for purpose has been extended for another five years.
The Central St Leonards Renewal Area was set up in December 2003 to raise the standards of the housing stock, improve their management, reduce crime, increase owner occupation and give streets a general makeover.
On Monday, members of the council’s cabinet heard how the scheme had made progress but there was still work to be done.
A report was prepared by Andrew Palmer, head of housing and development, which highlighted the need for the scheme to be extended.
Speaking to the cabinet, Mr Palmer said: “We have made some quite significant progress.
“But it has not been uniform across all aspects.
“Crime has fallen dramatically. Residents satisfaction has increased but not at all levels as we expected. There is still significant progress to be made.”
The report recommended an assessment was carried out to assess whether the extension is required beyond 2016.
Councillor Kim Forward, lead member for community safety, proposed the recommendations were accepted.
She told the committee: “The success of the programme includes 900 homes made fit or brought up to the decent homes standard or improved from a position of serious repair.
“Another 53 homes have been improved by housing associations.
“Another 104 houses in multiple occupation have been improved along with 111 buildings improved by our Grotbusters team.
“There has also been a significant reduction in the number of long-term empty properties(from 260 to 183) No wonder the responses to the consultation showed 96 per cent of respondents supporting the proposal to extend the timeframe of the renewal area.
“While good progress has been made towards improving unsatisfactory housing conditions the programme needs to continue
“There may be a further 800 homes remaining in the area that are sub standard some of which house our most vulnerable residents.
She added: “A renewal area gives us additional powers such as compulsory purchase orders and the ability to enter into agreements with housing associations as well as facilitating partnership working and stimulating and encouraging investment into the area.”