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 0303 123 1702

Allerdale Borough Council,
Allerdale House,
Workington,
Cumbria,
CA14 3YJ

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News release

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Have your say on the future of housing in your area

27 July 2016

Allerdale Borough Council is encouraging all residents and organisations to have their say on its draft housing strategy.

Entitled, “Improving Lives – Improving Housing: Allerdale Housing Strategy 2016-2021”, the draft document sets out the Council’s vision for improving the availability and quality of housing so that it meets the needs of local residents.

Residents and organisations have until August 24 to have their say. Responses can be made by following the links on the Council's website at: www.allerdale.gov.uk/consultation . The draft strategy is also available from the Council's offices in Workington, Cockermouth, Keswick, Maryport and Wigton or on request.    

The draft strategy has been developed after an extensive study of the current housing situation in the area. Surveys were sent out between October 2015 and March this year to a random sample of households in Workington, Cockermouth and Maryport. Surveys were also sent to every household outside of these areas. In addition the Council carried out research into the current condition of the rental accommodation in the area. This study gives a clear insight into the housing issues the area faces.

One of the challenges the area faces is the cost of housing. Whilst the average house price at £140,000 is well below the national average at £175,000, average wages are about £3,500 lower than nationally. In some areas house prices are ten times the average local wage.

In addition the housing study identified that the area requires an annual net increase of up to 175 affordable houses for the next five years, as well as meeting the demand from the open market. 

The area's population is due to experience significant changes too as the overall number of people declines by more than 1% and the average age increases. By 2037 the 15-39 and 40-64 age group is expected to decline by 8% and 17% respectively, while the population aged over 65 is expected to increase by a third.

The study also highlighted a number of issues regarding the condition of housing in the area. Residential properties are generally older than nationally and some 22% fail to meet the government's Decent Homes Standard. This standard assesses the property's state of repair, insulation, and the availability of modern facilities. It is estimated it will cost some £35.8m to bring these properties up to the Decent Home Standard.

Over recent years the Council has taken a preventative approach to homelessness. This has been hugely successful meaning fewer statutory homeless applications having been made. By working with residents who are facing housing problems, the Council has prevented 136 people becoming homeless in 2015/16.   

The Council's draft Housing Strategy sets out how the Council will meet these local challenges. It suggests working with partners and local communities to help provide affordable housing, as well as use Council assets to deliver new housing and ensure the Council's local development plan reflects the local housing need.

The Council also seeks to devise ways to help people stay in their homes as they get older. This could include reviewing the Disabled Facilities Grants, working with partners to develop effective "Winter Warmth" campaigns, and supporting vulnerable clients who are in temporary or unsuitable accommodation.

To improve the condition of privately rented properties in the area the Council proposes to incentivise landlords to make improvements through an accreditation scheme, provide training for landlords, investigate the feasibility of a rented property rating scheme, and review its enforcement policy. Where housing is not meeting the required standard the Council proposes to further develop its central heating installation schemes, and provide assistance to people who need to repair their home or cannot afford a home due to the repair costs required to bring it up to a suitable standard.

In addition the Council is seeking to be innovative in its approach to empty homes, suggesting they could be used to provide accommodation for key workers such as nurses and teachers. It also proposes to continue its preventative approach to homelessness through initiatives such as providing an emergency accommodation service even for those people where there is no statutory duty to house them in order to eliminate 'sofa surfing' in the area.

Councillor Carni McCarron-Holmes, Executive Member with responsibility for Housing, Health and Wellbeing, said: "Housing is such an important isssue, and no-one should be without a home, living in a property which does not meet their needs, or housed somewhere which is in a poor state of repair. This draft strategy plays a great part in Allerdale Borough Council's attempts to resolve these issues once and for all. I would encourage everyone to read it and have their say as the decisions made on it will be with us for a number of years."                                                                                                                                                                

ENDS

Notes

  1. For more information contact 01900 702526, corp.comms@allerdale.gov.uk
  2. Details of the draft housing strategy, the results of the housing study and a brief presentation on the housing strategy and study can be found on our website: http://www.allerdale.gov.uk/housing/housing-strategy.aspx
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0303 123 1702

Allerdale Borough Council
Allerdale House, Workington, Cumbria,
CA14 3YJ