Council Announces Millions To Be Invested In Housing

Tenants & leaseholders should see a series of improvements worth £72m over three years


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Councillors will be asked to approve a new multi-million pound capital programme of enhancements and investment to the council's housing stock at a committee meeting on January 23.  This future investment in local housing estates is on top of a £24 million spend on improvements this financial year.

The programme has also been boosted by additional funding, which had not previously been announced, worth an extra £30 million.

Current forecasts show that over the next three years around £41 million will be spent on major refurbishments like new roofs and windows.  In addition more than £11 million will be spent on heating repairs and upgrades, just under £3 million on new lifts, £2.9 million on rewiring and other electrical infrastructure improvements, £1.2 million on CCTV and other security measures, over £3 million on adaptations for the disabled and £1.6 million on better sheltered housing for the elderly.

Around £8 million is also being spent on the council’s innovative Hidden Homes scheme which transforms vacant areas on housing estates like laundries and storage areas into modern, new and attractive accommodation, while another £6 million will also be spent on improving kitchens and bathrooms in council-owned properties.

Residents who will see major refurbishment works include those living on the Ashburton, Clarence Lane, Ryde Vale, Savona, Sporle Court, Surrey Lane, Somerset and York Road estates.

The total level of housing investment in future years is also likely to increase as additional projects are added to the capital programme between now and 2016.

The money to pay for these improvements will come from tenants and leaseholders themselves. The funding comes from the Housing Revenue Account which contains all the monies collected in rents and service charges over many years. By law this cash cannot be spent on anything other than improving the council’s housing stock.

Ministers have told local authorities that they want all social housing rents to converge and have set guidelines as to how much each borough should charge in rent. According to the Government’s formula Wandsworth’s average rent should increase by £8.33 a week from April.

Councillors at next week’s meeting will be asked to endorse this Government recommendation on rent levels for the next financial year.   The percentage increase in Wandsworth will be less than in Kensington & Chelsea, Islington, Lewisham, Camden, Tower Hamlets and Westminster.   

Residents on low incomes will have their rent covered mainly by housing benefit.

Wandsworth's executive member for housing Cllr Paul Ellis said:
“We have unveiled a huge programme of improvements to the borough’s council estates. This investment will make a big difference to the daily lives tens of thousands of people.  People living on our estates will benefit from major upgrades to lighting, heating and security around their homes. Many blocks will also get brand new roofs, windows and lifts and there will be new kitchens and bathrooms fitted in a large number of properties.

“We have always provided high quality housing in Wandsworth, which is why our residents voted so overwhelmingly to keep the council as their landlord, rather than transfer the management of their homes to a housing association or an arms length company.  They are fully aware of how hard the housing department has worked over many years to provide clean, well-maintained and attractive places to live. We are determined to maintain that track record and this programme of works is proof of our commitment to all our estate residents.”

January 18, 2012