Affordable housing in Penrith for NHS staff and teachers?

Date: Wednesday 27th December 2017

THE door has been opened for Heart of Cumbria — Eden Council’s “investment vehicle” — to take ownership of more than 100 affordable rented homes as part of a major Penrith housing scheme.

The council’s planning committee agreed to amend a legal agreement to enable a potential sale of affordable homes at the Persimmon Homes Carleton Heights development to a social housing provider, which may include the district authority or another organisation or company it nominates.

Under an existing agreement, affordable rented dwellings could be owned only by housing associations and registered providers, the meeting was told.

Because housing associations were now receiving a reduced level of funding from government, there were not enough registered social landlords and other solutions to deliver affordable accommodation were having to be sought.

David Wright, Eden Council’s planning development manager, said Persimmon was building 505 homes at Carleton Heights and Heart of Cumbria was interested in, and was in talks with the developer about, taking on some affordable housing at the development, which was the “biggest in Eden”.

In total, 150 affordable homes were being built at the site, of which about 50 would be available at a discounted sale price for first-time buyers. Properties would also be available for people to rent at 80 per cent. of the market rate.

Investigations are to be made to see if the 100-plus two and three-bedroomed properties could also be made available for “key workers” with an affordable housing need. That could include NHS staff, primary and secondary school teachers and local authority workers.

Councillors were told there was a waiting list of 50 to 80 people who were looking for affordable accommodation in Penrith.

Mike Eyles (Lib Dem, Penrith) was not in favour of the legal agreement being amended as proposed. It was his wish to see more houses being available to buy at discounted sale prices.

John Owen (Con, Shap), who is chairman of Heart of Cumbria, said: “The board of Heart of Cumbria have expressed a preference to have an agreement with a registered social landlord for the management of affordable homes acquired under the terms of a Section 106 agreement.

“The company is in discussion with a prospective partner and will make an announcement when properties are acquired and agreement is reached with a suitable partner.”