Agenda item

Council House Building Programme

The administration set a manifesto commitment to deliver Council Housing in addition to the social housing currently being delivered through established enabling activities.  A programme to directly deliver around 50 units of accommodation over the next 1-2 years, including both supported housing and shared-ownership housing, is currently in progress. 


A decision is now required on the milestone to extend this programme to deliver a further tranche of up to 58 affordable Council Houses by utilising eight sites identified in this report.  These homes would all be social rented homes. 



Councillor Tom Davies introduced the report and made the following statement:


“In 2019 we all made a commitment to the residents of Bath & North East Somerset - a commitment that we as a LibDem administration would build the first general needs Council Houses in our area for a generation. 

Tonight, we as a Cabinet are here to deliver on this commitment as we approve the first phase of this new Council House building programme and I am delighted to be here proposing this paper.

And as we sit here tonight considering this item, never has the need for new Council Houses been so great. As an area with some of the least affordable housing in the country, thousands of our local residents are currently on our social housing waiting list, hundreds of them in the categories of highest need. 

As the paper in front of us shows - the Council has and will continue to play a key role in enabling new social and affordable housing to be built and delivered in our area by developers including our local housing association partners. With the Council playing this enabling role, nearly 2,000 affordable homes have been delivered in our area over the last ten years. Furthermore the Council is already working to deliver a programme of around 50 units of accommodation including supported housing and shared-ownership housing.

But the scale of the need means that it is vital that the Council now plays a new role and takes on a new responsibility - a role in which it utilises some of its own assets and becomes responsible for directly delivering and owning new general needs Council Houses for social rent for our residents. This is what we are here tonight as a Cabinet to approve.

And people listening tonight should be under no illusion as to the scale of this LibDem administration’s ambition for the role the Council can play in this area.

Tonight we consider the first 58 general needs homes across eight sites, but over the coming months we will be developing plans for the delivery of hundreds of additional Council Houses in our area over the coming years. 

Under the Liberal Democrats, this Council will become a leading provider of social housing in our area - housing of which we are proud - housing of high quality and which, in its design, construction and on-going maintenance, meets our obligations under the ecological and climate emergency declarations which we have made. 

And I would also like to stress that whilst we have been advised that due to aspects of commercial confidentiality we have had to keep the specific details of the sites being considered out of the public papers for tonight’s Cabinet, any Councillor who wishes to see the list of proposed sites, need only contact the Head of Housing and he will happily arrange to meet with them to share this information. Furthermore, I would stress that any site development will of course be subject to the full planning application process and associated public engagement.

Believe me - we are proud of our commitment to deliver Council houses and have nothing to hide.

Finally, I would like to extend a particular thank you to the officers and my cabinet colleagues who have worked tirelessly to bring us to this stage where we are about to approve this first phase of general needs Council Houses. 

Specifically I would like to say thank you to Graham Sabourn, Nick Plumley, Simon Martin and Sophie Broadfield and to my Cabinet colleagues, a particular thank you goes to Cllr Ball who started this work and to Cllr Samuel who has supported me throughout the development of this programme and who is seconding this paper.

And so, on that note, I would like to move this paper and call upon my colleagues to agree to the recommendations as we, together, deliver the first Council Houses in our area for a generation”. 

Councillor Tom Davies moved the recommendations.


Councillor Richard Samuel seconded the motion and made the following points:


The Conservatives broke the long-standing cross-party consensus on building council housing in the 1980s when they introduced increasingly more punitive finance regimes that militated against councils holding their own stock and introduced the right to buy. This ideological policy was born from political desires to downgrade the role of local government in the provision of low-cost social housing for rent. This harsh finance regime led to well over a hundred councils transferring their stock to housing associations where more benign finance arrangements applied. This council was one of the many that made that decision in the 1990s.

In the years that have followed we have seen a steady but inexorable decline in the building of truly affordable homes by social landlords as both labour and conservative governments progressively eroded the ability of councils to return to the building of new council housing. Even today the financial arrangements make it very hard to build new council housing.

So, it is against this background that Liberal Democrats set out in 2019 to chart a different course and begin to build new council housing against for the first time in a generation. This has been an exceptionally difficult path to navigate because hardly any stock transfer councils have done this. New ground is being broken. In the past two and half years delays due to covid and the market turbulence caused by Brexit has seriously impacted on the work programme.

But today we are at a new dawn when this council starts to provide new homes directly itself for the most needy in society. It is to be hoped that other council groups get behind this policy in the coming years as the stock grows.

I will be making provision for this new programme in the 2022/23 and 2023/24 capital budgets to ensure that once again this council becomes the proud provider of social homes for local residents at rents they can afford and with the security that they deserve.

Chair I am proud to second this report, and I commend all those who have worked with my colleague Councillor Davies to make it a reality”.


Councillor Tim Ball stated that the Council and the administration should be proud to see this coming forwards as rented accommodation in the area is expensive. Councillor Davies has worked hard on this.


Councillor Kevin Guy stated that this was an amazing achievement.


RESOLVED (unanimously) to recommend that the Cabinet on 11th November 2021 agree:


1.1  The eight sites identified in Appendix 1 are progressed as 100% affordable housing sites, including 117 Newbridge Hill, and in accordance with the delivery route detailed in the report;

1.2  Fully approve £413K from Provisional Affordable Housing Budget in 2021/22 to immediately progress scheme development work on five sites with funding coming from earmarked Right to Buy Receipts

1.3  The balance of funding of £11.73m identified in Appendix 2, will be incorporated into 2022/23 budget setting with approval subject to a full business case and confirmation of grant awards.

1.4  Individual scheme business cases will be authorised through the existing capital processes and in consultation with the relevant Cabinet Member.




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