Hastings council leaders back plans to build and buy homes

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Plans to build and buy around 134 homes in Hastings have received the backing of cabinet councillors.

On Monday (June 10), Hastings Borough Council’s cabinet agreed to recommend the council embark on the next phase of its property acquisition programme, with the aim of acquiring or developing homes to alleviate the authority’s temporary accommodation costs.

The proposal, which will go to a full council vote, involves the use of a significant amount of grant funding — including external capital funding of £22.8m, which will be partly matched with around £6.3m of the council’s own money.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Council leader Julia Hilton said: “It is fantastic to have managed to unlock £22.8m of grant funding. Yes, we have to borrow another £6.3m, but that is an amazing amount of funding to have unlocked for potentially 134 homes.”

Hastings Borough Council. Pic: ContributedHastings Borough Council. Pic: Contributed
Hastings Borough Council. Pic: Contributed

She added: “We are going to need to be more ambitious than this; this is just stage one. We have 560 households at least in temporary accommodation; 134 homes is fantastic but that still leaves a lot of people in private accommodation and costing us £6.5m, so we have to come up with a longer term plan.

“In a small town there is a limit to how many houses you can buy at once. We are going to have to be imaginative in the future about where we build [and] how we work with various different brownfield sites.

“I think this is a really good start to something I hope the Housing Task Force can discuss cross-party about how we see this as the start of a longer [strategy] — hopefully not too long, I would say a five-year strategy — to make sure that our numbers in temporary accommodation are back down to single figures.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The £22.8m is split across several funding streams, the bulk of which (£10m) will come from Levelling Up funds designated for direct property acquisitions. A further £3.53m will come from the government’s Single Homelessness Accommodation Programme (SHAP), which funds homes and support services for people sleeping rough or at risk of sleeping rough.

The council will also receive a little under £4.6m from the Local Authority Housing Fund.

The direct acquisitions will see the council directly purchase and let out properties.

These properties will be required to meet the council’s Fit to Let standard, which the council says will ensure homes: meet appropriate health and safety standards; are in good decorative order; and reach a minimum EPC rating of C.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

In addition to reducing its costs, the council says an increased supply of temporary accommodation will also reduce the need for out-of-borough temporary accommodation placements. The council says this will enable households to stay connected with their support networks and minimise the impact that moving can have on people’s wellbeing and access to education and employment.

A further £4.7m of external funding will be earmarked for the development of land to the rear of 419-447 Bexhill Road, a site with planning permission for 16 affordable homes. This funding comes from various sources, with the council to put £213,484 of its own capital monies into the scheme as well.

Once fully acquired, the 134 properties would be expected to save the council up to £1.9m per year in temporary accommodation costs.But a report from officers warns of a worst case scenario where the council’s net spend on Temporary Accommodation still increases, if the number of homeless households continues to rise. Even in this scenario, the properties purchased would still result in avoided additional costs.

Related topics: