Property News

Council eyes ‘golden opportunity’ to buy homes

Aim is to add to more affordable housing to its portfolio

Ashford Borough Council has moved a step closer to acquiring a small residential stake in the fast-growing Chilmington Green* development for £1.97m.

Described in a report as ‘a golden opportunity’ its cabinet last week was told the site is known as Parcel ‘P’ at Chilmington and 10 homes there will be part of the section 106 agreement. The report added that it will involve working with a reputable developer – Jarvis Homes – from whom it has previously secured quality homes for affordable housing.

In October 2019, in endorsing the council’s affordable housing delivery plan, cabinet members agreed that the housing team could intervene in the market and acquire section 106 homes delivered through the planning system if no registered providers (RPs) were in a position to do so.

At that time cabinet had the vision to give the housing service delegated authority to make acquisitions outside of cabinet meetings to accelerate the delivery of its housing stock and to act quickly in the marketplace so opportunities were not lost. This is one such opportunity.

At last week’s meeting the cabinet heard that the acquisition represents another opportunity for the council to illustrate the proactive approach it takes to deliver quality affordable homes. It gives the council a residential stake on the development and it potentially enables it to have a representative on the Chilmington Management Organisation, the stewardship body responsible for looking after community assets and delivering community development in the long term.

Councillors were told the deal continues the authority’s good rapport with Jarvis, whose products are well respected by housing services. With certainty over the product, the tenure, the size and type of the homes and the price, this represents as close to a risk-free acquisition as you could achieve in the current marketplace, cabinet heard.

It was agreed to endorse the £1.97m acquisition of the homes for affordable housing subject to the conclusion of legal discussions between the council’s and developer’s solicitors. , Ashford council’s portfolio holder for housing, says: “This off-plan purchase continues to grow our stock, not just of affordable rent homes, but supporting those who want to get on the housing ladder. It gives us a residential stake in a major development that we long advocated the need for as a council.

“We know the homes will be of good quality, as we have bought a very similar specification product from the same developer elsewhere recently. But most of all we know that the buildings we are acquiring here will give affordable housing tenants the opportunity to be truly proud of their home.

“These are the right homes in the right place at the right price. This is just another example of how innovation, being in touch with the market and engagement with key stakeholders, is setting us apart as a council to do business with.

Ashford cllr Bill Barrett

“Our housing team has a proven track record of delivering, obtaining grant and both building and buying quality homes over the last decade. And we won’t stop here as we seek to house those in need.”

*Chilmington Green is part of the new South of Ashford Garden Community. The development is creating a thriving community and includes 5,750 high-quality homes to be built over the next 20 years. Properties adhere to the latest energy efficiency standards to create a sustainable living environment. The development includes its own high street, schools, range of shops, commercial spaces and plenty of open green space.

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past local weekly publications he has worked for include: the South-East London Mercury* covering the Borough of Greenwich as a junior reporter; Orpington-based News Shopper as a sub-editor; and the Kent Messenger when based in Larkfield, Maidstone, as deputy chief sub-editor. He has also worked for the following dailies/nationals: Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor on a car fleet magazine. His first foray into property ownership saw him move from London to Rainham (the Gillingham, Kent, variety). He has subsequently lived in Chislehurst, Petts Wood and Orpington in the Borough of Bromley (which he still regards as being in Kent). In more recent years he owned three different properties on the Kings Hill (West Malling) development.

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