COUNCIL housing looks set to make a comeback in Liverpool after getting Westminster’s go-ahead for the local authority to begin building a new generation of homes.
The city council hasn’t built any new properties in over 30 years and the last of its housing stock was transferred to housing association ownership in the late 2000s.
But now the council says it has received the green light from the Government to build its own properties again, with confirmation that it will not need to repay a £735 million housing debt that was written off when it transferred the last of its housing stock.
In a letter to the city mayor, Joe Anderson, the housing minister, Kit Malthouse, said he is “pleased to see the ambition and enthusiasm of a city such as Liverpool, in engaging with the urgent process of delivering the new homes that this country needs”.
The council built some of the first-ever council homes not just in the UK but in Europe back in 1869 to tackle issues with sanitation and poor health, so its return to housebuilding has certainly stoked the authority’s civic pride.
“Liverpool pioneered public sector housing and my formative years were spent growing up in a council tenement, so I am extremely proud that, 150 years on from the city leading the way on social properties, we are now able to do so again,” said Anderson, who grew up in a council property at Kent Gardens near the city centre.
“Buying is not for everyone, so it is important that we do what we can to help people in every situation to get the home they deserve, and we need to rebalance the city’s housing market with a wider choice of the homes that people need.
“That is why I have pledged that we will build 10,000 houses, and I want a proportion of them to be council homes for people to rent.
“Affordable, social, properties are desperately needed to make sure nobody is left behind and that is why housing is an integral part of our Inclusive Growth Plan.
“I am really excited that we will be able to build new houses for the first time in more than three decades – in my view they can’t be built fast enough.”
The council says the first properties to form part of its housing scheme will be a small number of homes that have been refurbished in the Picton area. Beyond that, it is developing plans for an initial phase of houses to contribute to the city’s overall need to develop 30,000 new homes by 2030.
Shadow housing secretary John Healey MP said: “Liverpool is at the sharp end of the housing crisis. Everyone knows someone who can’t get the home they need or aspire to. I’m glad to see a city like Liverpool able to build much needed new council houses – made possible by the lifting of the HRA borrowing cap which we have long wanted to see.”
Jo Cutler, hub manager at Shelter Merseyside, said: “Social homes are what this country wants and what it needs, and Liverpool is no different. The housing emergency has hit the city hard – right now, 240 homeless households are stuck in temporary accommodation – which is why it’s vital the council has the means to provide more safe and secure social homes in the area.”