Wed, 10 May 2017
A PROJECT to build more affordable homes in Newbury is in danger of not being completed after town councillors refused to approve funding for the scheme.
The Charity of Mrs Mabel Luke is in the process of building 16 homes in Mill Lane which will be used to house up to 40 local people.
Having begun construction on the first 12 homes, the charity must now secure further funding within the next few weeks in order to sign a contract with the developer for the remaining four dwellings.
However, when asked to consider a grant request for £10,000 from the charity, Conservative members of the town council’s policy and resources committee voted to defer the decision to the council’s grants sub-committee, which next meets in June.
Charity chairman Bill Piner told the Newbury Weekly News he is now hoping for a second chance to persuade the council to provide the funding earlier.
“The developer had agreed to hold his costs until the end of April, so we need to at least show we have the funding coming in,” he explained.
“I’ve asked for a meeting with the leader of the council and the chief executive. We hope by persuading them to meet we can convince them to agree to the funding.
“We might be able to secure a deadline extension with the developer. It may only be two or three weeks, but it would give us the chance to talk to Newbury Town Council to re-consider the funding.”
It is estimated that the project needs £50,000 in additional funds to complete the development of 16 affordable homes.
However, Mr Piner said the project would still go ahead with 12 flats if further funding could not be secured, adding: “There’s a very great shortage of affordable properties for rent in Newbury and this could well be a substantial contribution to the housing need.”
Julian Swift-Hook (Lib Dem, Pyle Hill), who had argued that the committee should agree to the funding request, said: “I’m extremely disappointed that the council has taken the approach that it has.
“The council explicitly states in its strategy a support for affordable housing. It was the ideal opportunity for the council to demonstrate its support.
“The council now has funding from the Community Infrastructure Levy which would provide the ideal opportunity to fund a project like this without placing an additional burden on the town’s taxpayers.”
Mabel Luke Place will be made up of one- and two-bedroom homes across three apartment blocks and will be allocated to people in the Greenham and Newbury area based on need and in collaboration with Homechoice West Berkshire.
The £2m development will replace the four almshouses that previously stood on the two-acre plot purchased by Mrs Mabel Luke in 1928.
To donate, or for more information on the charity, visit mabelluke.co.uk