Target set to deliver 500 new Hastings affordable homes by 2027

Hastings council leaders have set a target to deliver 500 new affordable rental properties by 2027.

Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 2:41 pm
Muriel Matters House, Hastings Borough Council offices. SUS-210823-124947001

On Monday (November 1), Hastings Borough Council’s cabinet set a target to provide 500 new affordable rental properties in the town between 2022/23 and 2026/27.

The council says it would achieve this aim both by working with developers and social housing providers and acquiring and developing its own properties. 

As part of this, the council is to identify land it owns which may be suitable for direct development and report back to cabinet next month.

Cllr Andy Batsford, lead councillor for housing, said: “When we talk about rented affordable homes, we are talking about homes that are capped at the Hastings [Local Housing Allowance] rate.

“The reason we have done that is so that not only are these homes much, much cheaper to rent than the market value at the moment, but it also means that if a family finds themselves in financial dire straits that they know their home is not at risk because they will be covered by the local housing rate.”

He added: “This is our council pledge that we will use every site we have, every developer we will work with and engage with to bring those affordable rental homes back to Hastings and back to the local people to make sure their lives and their children’s lives are better for the future.”

According to the council, it wants registered social housing providers — such as Optivo — to provide up to 300 of these 500 rental properties. This would be done in the usual way with these providers acquiring sites either in competition with private sector developers or through planning agreements as part of larger developments.

The council could also sell its own land (likely at a below market rate) to these providers so that they can build housing there.

The remaining properties could be provided by the council directly, either by building its own houses or by purchasing properties from others.

A list of these potential sites has been published on the council’s website and is expected to be updated in future. The current list includes land to the rear of 419 -447 Bexhill Road and land to the west of Bodium Drive as potential all affordable development sites.

As part of this, the council has recently re-activated its registered provider status and successfully applied to become a Homes England Investment Partner.

With this status, the council can own up to 200 homes for rent. Any more than this and the council would need to reopen a Housing Revenue Account, which would need government approval. At present, the council has acquired four homes.

Alternatively, the council could own more housing through its arms-length housing company.

Labour council leader Kim Forward said: “I think it is really clear to anyone who knows anything about Hastings Borough Council that this is one of our priorities. 

“We are passionate about this, but there is a limit to what we can do. We have stepped up, we are always stepping up, what we need is for the government to step up. 

“It is the government which has the power to stop this completely ridiculous escalation of rents out the reach of ordinary people, the people who Cllr Batsford spoke about earlier.

“I’m really pleased Cllr Batsford is going to be meeting with our MP to explain to her exactly what the situation is like for some of the residents in our town if she is not aware already. 

“I’m sure she is going to join in lobbying her government for the best interest of the people of the constituency that she represents, because that is her job and her duty to do that.”