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Horsham to set up affordable housing company

Horsham District Council looks set to join the ever-expanding list of local authorities with its own housing company.

The council’s cabinet has given the green light to plans to set up its own affordable housing company and invest £10m in the project.

The company will be separate from the council but will be owned by it. It will be led by council appointed directors but other staff resources – such as legal, financial and administrative support – will come from within the council.

According to the cabinet report, Horsham District Council has delivered the highest number of affordable homes in Sussex during the past three years.

It claims Horsham has invested more than £5.5m in temporary accommodation to buy 34 properties to prevent households from having to be accommodated in bed and breakfast accommodation.

The next step will see the council invest £10m to deliver its own permanent affordable housing through an affordable housing company.

The cabinet report states the new company will build up to 70 units in some of the district’s ‘most-in-demand areas’ and reduce the number of households on the council’s housing register.

The first two sites have been identified in Billingshurst and Henfield, according to the report.

‘These are smaller sites that will enable the delivery team to build upon experience gained through the delivery of temporary accommodation schemes to deliver permanent affordable homes,’ it states.

Alongside providing additional affordable rented homes, it will also build an asset base that could enable delivery of affordable homes into the future.

The report adds that the company will operate at a loss of £210k over the first four years, but should return a pre-tax profit of £325k after that.

Costs for legal services, audit services, procurement, staffing and facility recharges alongside staff training and compliance have all been factored into the running costs of both companies, according to the report.

In December, Liverpool City Council launched its ‘ethical’ housing company, Foundations, which will deliver £1bn worth of development over the next decade.

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