HAILSHAM: Affordable homes policy easing strain

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OVER the past year 200 new affordable homes have been built in the Wealden District, more than double the number built in the previous year.

Some 165 homes have been built by various Housing Associations supported by Government grants.

These are then let to households on the council housing register.

A further 35 homes were built for sale under affordable home ownership schemes such as Homebuy or Homebuy Direct.

Village and towns where affordable housing has been provided this year include Hailsham, Hellingly, Uckfield, Crowborough, Five Ashes and Buxted.

The majority of the new affordable homes have been built in Wealden’s towns as part of larger developments.

Planning rules stipulate that a certain proportion of sizeable developments must include affordable homes for rent or shared ownership.

However, 60 of the new affordable homes were built in Wealden villages where the council has made use of special planning polices.

These encourage homes to be built in areas where it has traditionally been more difficult to meet the rising demand for affordable rental accommodation in what are some of the most expensive housing areas in the South East.

“This boost to the supply of affordable homes is reassuring news for the residents of Wealden,” said Councillor Johanna Howell, Cabinet member for Housing on Wealden District Council.

“There is a real shortage of affordable homes in the district and these homes will solve the housing problems of many local families.

“Wealden has a new core strategy on which we are currently seeking the views of the public.

“It will ensure a higher proportion of affordable housing is included as part of any development of five or more houses.

“We are also looking to see how the proposals in the Coalition Government’s affordable rent programme can further increase the affordable rental opportunities in the district.”

The district also saw the completion of its first affordable extra care scheme for older people with care needs in the Uckfield area.

Margaret House was developed in partnership with Saxon Weald Housing Association and East Sussex County Council Adult Social Care. The first residents moved in November 2010.

There are currently 2,239 households on the council’s housing register in need of affordable housing in the district, compared to 2,352 in March 2010.