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West Berkshire Council considers launching housebuilding firm

Following the lead of Bristol, West Berkshire Council’s lead for economic development and planning has revealed the council is considering launching a council-owned housebuilding firm to tackle the current housing shortage.

Hilary Cole said the council would look to set up the company in order to build more affordable housing.

The move would replicate the approach taken by council leaders in Bristol last year, where a new company, Goram, was founded for this same purpose and is already planning its first development with 268 homes – more than half of which are to be affordable.

Goram is owned by Bristol City Council.

READ MORE: Darlington council in £9.5m venture to build on housebuilding success

READ MORE: Building for the future amidst a growing affordability crisis

Questioned during a meeting of the executive, Cllr Cole said: “We are investigating setting up a local housing company, similar to the one in Bristol.”

She also highlighted an ongoing regeneration scheme in Market Street, Newbury, which is set to be completed by 2021 and will “deliver 232 homes, 219 of which will be available for private rent and 13 for shared ownership”.

Cllr Cole also highlighted the council’s existing plans to deliver 551 new homes each year, a target which she said the council was currently operate above.

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Similarly, West Berkshire Council were said to be investigating a rent incentive scheme to secure more private rented accommodation, and a joint venture with housing association Sovereign to build more affordable homes for the district.

Bristol City Council have been at the forefront of this approach to providing key local authority services. As well as housebuilding firm Goram, who provide the city council with greater control over how sites are developed and more influence over what is built and when, they have set up two other companies: Bristol Waste and Bristol Energy.


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