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Residents urged to build own homes

RURAL communities are being encouraged to take the lead on developing affordable homes in Northumberland.

Northumberland County Council has approved a Community Housing Fund Policy which sets out how the council aims to allocate a £1.3m Community Housing Fund.

Funding allocated earlier this year by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) will be used to support a number of activities.

They ranged from helping local communities to establish appropriate partnerships to develop Community Led Housing schemes, to the actual provision of affordable housing.

The council is working with Community Action Northumberland (CAN), to develop Communities CAN, a community led-housing hub.

It will help identify towns and villages where there is an interest in community-led housing schemes, as a way of addressing the need for affordable housing.

The hub will also help local organisations identify practical opportunities for developments – both new-build and refurbishments.

It will seek to raise awareness and understanding of the issues facing many communities across Northumberland.

Communities CAN will support local groups in setting up a fully constituted community group to take forward affordable housing schemes/

In parts of Northumberland such as Beadnell, as many as 52% of households are holiday or second homes, according to recent figures.

although tourist spending is welcomed in the county, such trends can also keep out first-time buyers by creating a shortage of available properties for locals, and ultimately impact upon the viability of smaller communities.

John Riddle, the council's cabinet member for housing, said: “Establishing this policy is a really exciting step for Northumberland, in allowing the proper devolution of monies to communities to bring forward community-led housing schemes which can benefit their area.

"Having the right number and variety of affordable homes is a major issue for many parts of the county, in particular areas where there are high numbers of second homes.

"Through this funding we are encouraging communities, who want to take on the provision of affordable homes for people living and working in their area, to come forward.

"The partnership with CAN allows us to look at innovative ways of developing affordable homes, at a time where, as a council, it is challenging for us to meet the needs of all of our communities experiencing a shortfall in the number of affordable homes."

CAN chief executive Andy Dean said: "Community-led housing is a proven and growing method of delivering affordable homes in a way often more acceptable to local communities.

"Through this initiative we want to be able to support the development of more schemes, where they are clearly needed and wanted, through new and existing community-led organisations.”

For more information on how to get involved contact info@ca-north.org.uk


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