At Monday’s meeting of SKDC Full Council, the Portfolio Holder for Housing announced his intention to build new council houses at a small number of houses across the District. These include 14 houses at Wellington Way in Market Deeping.
The housing schemes have been ‘in the pipeline’ for several years but, as with so many other SKDC projects, the pace of progress has been almost glacial. I was shown some plans for the Wellington Way scheme, in confidence, way back in 2018. I don’t know all the reasons why it has taken the council nearly three years to ‘go public’ and start the process of applying for planning permission but it will be due in part to the large turnover of senior officers at SKDC in general and in the beleaguered Housing Department in particular. The changes in Cabinet roles (three different portfolio holders in three years) and of course the global pandemic will also have had an impact. The current Portfolio Holder, Cllr Robert Reid (Con) stated said that he hopes the scheme will be presented to the council’s internal Housing Group (composed of senior officers and cabinet members) later in March and then Planning Permission will be requested in May.
I do not have accurate up-to-date information regarding the details of the new ‘housing units’; they might be flats or bungalows but I think they will be small houses. As for the precise location on Wellington Way, you don’t need a Town Planning degree in order to make an educated guess at where it might be physically possible to build 14 homes, especially if they are to be built on land owned by the Council.
In 2018, I was assured that the future of the Scout Hut would be secure; and I have no reason to believe it is at risk now.
The other South Kesteven sites progressing in 2021/22 financial year are:
- 4 one-bed flats and 3 one-bed bungalows at Meadow Close in Bourne
- 5 bungalows at Trinity Road, Stamford
- 24 units at Swinegate, Grantham; and
- 35 units at Shaw Road, Grantham.
If (Big If) all these schemes are completed in the 20/21 financial year, this will be a total of 85 new homes which would be more homes than South Kesteven DC has completed in the last 15 years put together!
No houses at all have been built in the Deepings since at least 2005 and probably since before the turn of the millenium (please correct me if I am wrong!).
Meanwhile, the Council is losing an average of about 50 properties each year under the Right-to-Buy scheme so the total number of dwellings available is falling drastically at a time when, for most people and families on low and middle incomes, the prospect of getting a mortgage and buying a house of their own is getting me more and more out of reach.
Four out of ten homes purchased by tenants under right-to-buy are now owned by private landlords.
There will obviously be a tension between the need for new housing and the protection of open spaces and I will reserve my opinion on the individual schemes until I have seen the detail of what is eventually proposed. However, I am pleased the council finally appears to be ‘grasping the nettle’ and getting serious about providing homes for some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in our communities. I hope the proposed schemes will be well-designed and well-maintained – Certainly they need to be better maintained than the council has managed in recent years, for which the Council has reported itself to the Housing Regulator after an internal audit report in November revealed a catalogue of health, safety and management failures including a lack of appropriate fire safety checks over several years!
What I can’t tell you are the proposed locations for the other 300+ houses promised repeatedly by the Conservative administration at South Kesteven.
If you have an opinion about council housing in the Deepings, please let me know. Constructive feedback can only help me to be a better representative Councillor.
Finally, here’s a short video about housing published by SKDC back in 2019. I don’t know how much it cost to produce the video but bear in mind that since it was released eighteen months ago, the council has completed only 14 one-bed modular homes.