Friday, 18 March 2011

Coalition Council wins £3.7m to build more affordable homes in Dee Park

Great news today as it has been confirmed that Liberal Democrat-Conservative controlled Reading Borough Council is set to benefit from £3.7 million pounds to held build more affordable homes in Dee Park.

From the official Homes and Communities Agency press release:
"The funding from the Homes and Communities Agency will support the creation of 76 new affordable homes in later stages of the regeneration scheme, bolstering the £10.4 million the HCA put towards the project in March 2009.
The original investment supported the first phase of the regeneration, which includes 111 homes for homes for social rent, including 60 brand new extra care housing flats for the elderly. Work on the extra care housing facility is well underway and is expected to be completed by the end of 2011.Many of the homes for private sale are also in the process of being built.
Sections of road are being renewed improving access around the area, and residents will also benefit from new outdoor sports facilities at Ranikhet Primary School, which can be used by both the school and also the wider community."
This is great news for residents in Dee Park and Reading as a whole. Competition for public funding to build new affordable housing is intense so the fact that the Council has secured this funding shows the Coalition Government recognises what an important regeneration scheme Dee Park is not just to Reading but across the South East as a whole.

We have worked hard to make the case to the Homes and Communities Agency that this scheme is not just about investing in bricks and mortar - it will help deliver better life chances for all residents living in the area and help support economic growth in Reading. We also have won the argument that this scheme represents excellent value for money for taxpayers which is important in the new economic climate.

Every pound invested by Government will go to investing in the community not just now but in the future - improving housing for elderly people, as well as community facilities such as the local school.

Ministers have already pledged that they will build affordable homes during this Parliament than Labour (arguably not difficult given Labour's parlous record when it came to building enough affordable homes when they were in government).

I am especially proud to have overseen the construction of Reading's first new council homes in 20 years during my first year as Lead Member for Housing. With thousands of people in Reading on the Council's waiting list for affordable housing it is essential we build homes for people that desperately need them.

I am really grateful to everyone on the project team at Reading Borough Council and the Dee Park Partnership - a joint venture between Catylst Housing Group and Willmott Dixon Group for all their hard work on this project over many years and more recently in securing this funding.

I would also like to thank in particular local MP Alok Sharma who after I contacted him lobbied the HCA on the Council's behalf earlier this year. His support has been vital keeping this project moving forward.

When it comes to housing I will always put politics aside to work with all parties to ensure that we get the best possible outcomes for local residents. This issue is too important for party politics.

Finally and most importantly I would like to thank all the residents who have worked with the Council for many years to get this project of the ground. Thanks to the awful mess Labour left the public finances in public funding for capital projects is in short supply and I am grateful residents for continuing to actively support the scheme alongside councillors and MPs.

But our campaign does not end here. We need to win the argument for sustained investment in Dee Park by Government and housing associations to ensure residents get the full benefit of the regeneration project and I will continue to champion the scheme at every level.

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