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Shropshire Council looking to build its own homes to rent and buy

By Dominic Robertson | Property | Published:

Shropshire Council could enter the housebuilding business, according to the authority’s leader.

Telford & Wrekin Council has been building homes since 2015 and now Shropshire Council is looking to do the same

Councillor Peter Nutting, who took over as leader last year, said the plans could see the council build houses for rent and sale.

He said the authority had been taking advice from property experts Savills on the plans, and that a decision on whether to proceed with the idea is expected in December.

Councillor Nutting said it could provide the authority with the chance to build on land it owns around the county and that the homes could be low-cost rental properties and houses to buy.

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He said: “We are hoping if we can set the company up and get it running by developing with our own land we could have low-cost rental housing and low-cost houses for sale to the general public.”

Any decision to proceed with setting up the firm is likely to be taken at a meeting of the council in December.

Councillor Nutting, who represents the Copthorne ward in Shrewsbury said: “We are looking at setting up a housing company.

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“We are hoping, if we can set the company up and get it running by developing our own land, we could have low-cost rental housing and low-cost houses for sale to the general public.

“We own large parts of land around the county which could offer us the opportunity to do some reasonably priced developments.

“We are hoping that will come to the council meeting in December.

“We have had a lot of advice from Savills who are experts and we are largely following their advice.”

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Record

Shropshire’s neighbouring authority, Telford & Wrekin Council, has been building houses for rent with its own company, Nuplace, since 2015.

Since the firm was set up it has built around 267 homes in the borough.

Hailing the record of the company, the council announced earlier this year that it has made a cumulative profit, before interest and taxation, of £1.5m since it was set up.

The authority said it had collected £683,000 after interest but before taxation.

The council says it has also benefited from £2.1m net income since Nuplace was formed, which it is using to help fund frontline services.

The developments include Pool View in Randlay, Woodland Walk in Madeley, The Oaklands in Dawley, Blossom Walk in Hadley, Springfields in Newport, and Miners Walk in Madeley.

The government has also announced that it wants to make it easier for councils to build homes.

Scrapping

Speaking at the recent Conservative Party conference, Prime Minister Theresa May said she intended to lift a cap on councils borrowing to finance housing developments.

There is no suggestion that Shropshire Council would be borrowing to fund its developments but under the plans it would be able to if necessary.

Delivering her speech to the conference hall in Birmingham Mrs May said: “Solving the housing crisis is the biggest domestic policy challenge of our generation.

“It doesn’t make sense to stop councils from playing their part in solving it. So, today, I can announce that we are scrapping that cap. We will help you get on the housing ladder – and we will build the homes this country needs.”

Local Government Association chairman Lord Porter welcomed the move. He said: “It is fantastic that the government has accepted our long-standing call to scrap the housing borrowing cap.

“We look forward to working with councils and the government to build those good quality affordable new homes and infrastructure that everyone in our communities need. Our national housing shortage is one of the most pressing issues we face, and it is clear that only an increase of all types of housing – including those for affordable or social rent – will solve the housing crisis.

“The last time this country built homes at the scale that we need now was in the 1970s when councils built more than 40 per cent of them.

“Councils were trusted to get on and build homes that their communities needed, and they delivered, and it is great that they are being given the chance to do so again.”

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