COUNCILLORS in Teignbridge have pledged to accelerate an ambitious project to deliver new homes for local people in need.
The so-called ‘Teignbridge 100’ project is seen as one of the ways to help the council combat problems in the supply of homes for local families. It aims to deliver 100 council-owned or enabled homes over the next few years.
Teignbridge Council leader Cllr Martin Wrigley (Lib Dem, Dawlish NE) said they had to work in both the short and long term to make sure housing supplies keep pace with demand.
He was speaking at a meeting of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee, during which members heard how the spiralling cost of living, rising rents and increasing numbers of ‘no fault’ evictions by landlords are holding back efforts to prevent homelessness in the district.
The committee looked at the progress the council is making on its ‘Teignbridge Ten’ priorities. One of them, called ‘A Roof Over Our Heads’, aims to prevent homelessness wherever possible.
But a report to the committee said: 'We are below target as we have seen a sharp increase in the amount of people who have lost accommodation with friends or family members in the last quarterly period.
'We believe that this is largely as a result of concerns over the cost-of-living crisis.
'We are seeing an increase of households being served Section 21 notices [of eviction] where they may or may not have rent arrears, but the rental costs have increased beyond the household’s affordability range.'
The notice allows private landlords to repossess properties without having to show their tenants have done anything wrong.
Cllr Jane Taylor (South Devon Alliance, Kerswell-with-Coombe) said she was concerned that developers were being allowed to remove affordable homes from local housing schemes.
The Teignbridge 100, she said, would take a long time to achieve, and asked if the council had considered buying homes as well as building them.
Cllr Wrigley said it was ‘difficult’ to watch developers reduce the number of affordable homes, and officers fought against it whenever they could.
'There is more of an issue right now with people being evicted on Section 21 notices,' he said. 'We need to be taking action both in the short-term and the long-term. In the long term we are accelerating the Teignbridge 100 programme to deliver more council homes, but none of this will deliver in quick time.
'We have bought houses, built houses and adapted properties. We recently acquired four homes in Chudleigh and put them back into use. They now have tenants in them, and they are very happy.'