The partnership between the Liberal Democrats and Independents is now at the half-way stage since it took control of Torbay Council two years ago. How has the first part of its term gone? The partnership gives part two of its verdict:
Torbay Council’s ambition is for a thriving Torbay – a place where we have turned the tide on poverty.
Our aim is to ensure that all our residents are active, healthy, safe, resilient and self-sufficient with good-quality homes, which are affordable and meet their needs.
We want people to have access to high quality employment opportunities whilst living in a community which is vibrant and attractive.
Improving the delivery, affordability and quality of housing in Torbay is so important. Let’s start with three facts:
- there are up to 50 people applying for each private-rented property which comes on the market in Torbay
- the gap between rent and the local housing allowance is increasing and for a family requiring a three-bed property, this could be as much as an extra £320 per month – sometimes more
- at the end of May there were 151 households in temporary accommodation in Torbay and 38 of those were families with children.
The unprecedented demand for accommodation in Torbay makes it incredibly challenging for those on lower incomes to access accommodation, and we need to address this.
The partnership that run Torbay Council are committed to delivering its housing strategy but what does that mean?
The new housing company - TorVista Homes – was awarded registered provider status in March for housing by the Regulator for Social Housing.
TorVista Homes will deliver around 350 new homes within Torbay over the next four to five years.
These include a range of different affordable housing options including temporary accommodation, extra care housing and older persons' housing, as well as homes for social rent, affordable rent and shared ownership.
The company will be able to bid for grants from Homes England which will help to maximise the number of homes that can be delivered across Torbay.
Since registration in March, a great deal has already happened and some of the immediate plans for development by TorVista Homes have seen the purchase of properties at Bishops Place, Paignton, which were previously empty for over 18 months.
The homes are now occupied by local households after being advertised on Devon Home Choice where more than 100 applicants applied to live in each of the homes.
A planning application has been approved to deliver nine homes, including an apartment suitable for a wheelchair user, on the corner of Tweenaway Cross, Totnes Road.
Work will start on site as soon as Homes England have determined our grant application.
We also have plans for 23 new homes built on the site of the former St Kilda’s care home in Brixham, with planning and grant applications submitted and awaiting determination.
We are progressing with plans for the development of extra care housing for residents with care and support needs on land at Torre Marine and the Crossways shopping centre in Paignton.
These will provide truly lifelong homes for residents.
Given that there are currently 1,440 households on the housing register seeking affordable housing, it is vital that we make access to affordable housing a priority to prevent homelessness and ensure that all of our residents and communities thrive.
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