THE first new council houses since the Eighties could soon be built in Southend.
Southend Council’s new coalition administration wants to invest as much as £3million building between 13 and 27 homes on a under-used council garage sites in Shoebury.
If the scheme is successful, as many as 33 more homes could be built on three other sites in Southend, Eastwood and Leigh.
The first scheme would involve land in Ashanti Close, Bulwark Road and Exeter Close, Shoebury, where neighbours often complain of flytipping and antisocial behaviour problems.
David Norman, Labour councillor responsible for housing, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to build new council homes for the first time in decades, and to begin to tackle the urgent need for good-quality, low-cost accommodation in the town.
“While more work needs to be done on looking at long-term options for council housing, we have development funds available to pursue this pilot scheme.
“We are committed to addressing local housing need and this pilot scheme could create between 13 and 27 new council homes, available for local people on the home seekers’ register.”
The initial scheme would cost between £1.5million and £3million depending on how many homes were built, could be finished by November 2015 if neighbours back the plan when they are consulted later this summer.
After that, between 12 and 18 homes could be built on a garage site in Rochford Road, Southend, and land next to Bishop House, in Western Approaches, Eastwood.
A third phase of as many as 15 homes could be built on a garage site in Juniper Road, Leigh.
The proposals are the result of last year’s in-depth, all-party investigation into affordable housing in the borough, led by Mr Norman, who represents Victoria ward. Officials looked at more than 100 small council-owned sites before coming up with those now under consideration.
When the Tories lost control of the council at last month’s elections, Labour councillors insisted a pledge to build more social housing was included as part of the deal struck with Lib Dems and Independent councillors.
A third of the money to build the new homes will be cash the council already still holds from the sale of council houses to tenants.
Another £66,000 will come from developers, penalised for not including their quota of affordable housing in developments, with council funds making up the balance.
The proposals have been welcomed by Mark Flewitt, Tory councillor for St Laurence ward.
He said: “I’m very enthusiastic about the prospect of more council housing.
“I’m pleased work done under the previous Conservative administration is coming to fruition, but we need to be cautious we are building them in the right places and the highways impact has been looked at sensibly.”