Affordable housinghits snag over cost

Martin Slack

PLANS to build affordable houses in a deprived Doncaster community have been sent back to the drawing board by councillors worried about the cost.

Doncaster Council applied to the Government’s Homes and Communities Agency for funding for four new council housing projects in Mexborough, Denaby Main, Askern and Wheatley.

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The authority was told last week that only one of the projects would be funded, and a grant of around 1.3m is being made available for 24 new homes in Denaby Main.

However, for the scheme to go ahead the council must provide what is known as “match-funding” of 1.3m – which some councillors felt was too much.

During a debate at a council meeting, the council’s overview and scrutiny committee chairman Coun John Mounsey said the Denaby scheme was “affordable housing which was not affordable”.

He added: “We are all in favour of building new council houses, but the cost to this council will be obscene. For this project we are talking about 150,000 build costs for each property.

“There are builders in this town who can build houses for 60,000 and if we agree to this somebody is going to making a fortune from this council again.”

Coun Martin Williams, the leader of the council’s community group, described the plans as “financial madness” and said it would become a “shambolic financial burden” on the council and be “absolutely ridiculous”.

Independent councillor David Hughes said: “We need to build social homes, but not at any price.”

Labour group leader Joe Blackham blamed council officers for the problems, saying they had given poor advice to the Cabinet.

Councillors voted that the scheme be re-examined before the council committed to borrowing funds for the scheme.