three people sitting beside table

Plan To Improve Local Housing Set To Be Agreed

A new Housing Plan that sets out how Wakefield Council will improve local housing is due to be agreed by senior councillors.

The new plan details what action will be taken to provide residents with homes that meet their needs over the next three years, from now until 2026.

It will replace the previous one that ended last year and has been updated to ensure it can meet the current challenges faced by local communities, such as the rise in living costs and home improvements that contribute towards reducing the effects of climate change.

There are twelve priorities outlined in the plan, chosen because they will have the greatest impact on people’s lives. They were agreed following a public consultation during which a wide range of views were received on what the proposed plan should contain.

Under the plan, housing-led regeneration projects across the district will continue, including 2,600 new homes to be built in east Wakefield, as part of the City Fields Masterplan.

The plan includes using the Public Rented Sector Scheme and working closely with private developers and Registered Providers to increase the number of affordable new homes.

The Council will work with its partners and developers through the planning process to improve the quality and design of new homes.

Owners of private rented properties will be targeted to ensure tenants live in homes that are safe and healthy.

An assessment of the housing market has highlighted that specialist housing need, whether for physical or mental disability, will increase significantly over the next 15 years. The housing plan proposes a number of measures that would create accommodation suitable for people living with a disability.

To tackle the risk of people losing their homes or going into debt because of higher energy bills the Council has committed to providing advice and support to help people cope.

The Energy Debt Fund will offer grants to those struggling to pay their bills and training will be offered to those who need it on managing household budgets through the Money Smart scheme.

The Council will continue to support residents to save energy, reduce their bills and carbon emissions with energy efficiency and renewable energy improvement schemes.

Cllr Denise Jeffery, Leader of Wakefield Council, said: “It is important that all our residents are given the chance to live in high quality housing, as it gives them a secure base from which to live and work in the district.
“Equally important, at this time, is the economic turmoil we are facing and the impact that is having on people who used to be able to comfortably afford to rent or own their home. Our proposed plan is aimed at helping them too.”

The report before Cabinet also reflects on the achievements of the previous Housing Plan, from 2019-2022. They include:

  • 4,482 new homes completed
  • 424 empty properties brought back into use through a combination of support and enforcement action
  • 1,271 private rented sector hazards removed through reactive and proactive partnership building and enforcement action
  • £5m grant funding secured to deliver fuel poverty support schemes
  • Key Council owned sites being developed for affordable housing at Farm Lane, Chantry, and Castleford Baths.

Cllr Jeffery added: “Our previous plan has made a lasting impact on people’s lives. It was achieved during one of the most difficult times this country has faced, due to the effects of Brexit, the Covid pandemic, followed by economic uncertainty.”

“We’ve made encouraging progress and have developed strong and effective partnerships but recognise that we need to do more for our residents.”

Cabinet will meet on Tuesday 14 February at 10.30am. The meeting can be watched live or later on the Council’s website.