Council officers want borough and developers to work on cheaper starter homes

Council officers want borough and developers to work on cheaper starter homes

Simon Meechan

Home ownership in Windsor and Maidenhead is lagging behind neighbouring areas and council officers want the borough to work with developers to bring cheaper ‘Starter Homes’ with a £250,000 price cap.

A report to be heard by the Royal Borough’s policy committee at Maidenhead Town Hall on Tuesday asks councillors to set up a ‘partnership and investment plan’ to help more people buy a home, which could be considered by cabinet in April.

The report uses census data from 2001 and 2011 to show home ownership has fallen by 7.5 per cent.

In 2011, 39,670, or 65.1 per cent of 60,901 homes were owner-occupied.

But in 2001, 72.6 per cent, or 39,418 of Windsor and Maidenhead’s 54,261 homes were owner-occupied.

The latest data is five years old, and at least 250 shared ownership homes have been added since.

Neighbouring Bracknell Forest, West Berkshire and Wokingham all have higher home ownership rates, with 66.9 per cent, 67.2 per cent and 77 per cent respectively, although ownership has declined in these boroughs since 2001.

Slough lags behind the Royal Borough, with 51.7 per cent home ownership in 2011.

The Starter Homes scheme, introduced nationally in 2015, offers first-time buyers a 20 per cent discount on new homes built on previously developed land.

With a £250,000 cap, the council report admits price is a ‘factor’ in delivering the scheme, due to high land prices.

The report says: “The recommendation is that the council work with developers and housing associations to bring forward plans for enabling a Starter Homes initiative in the Royal Borough.”

Shared ownership options with a stake lower than the 35 per cent minimum share required in the borough’s Do It Yourself Shared Ownership scheme (DIYSO) are being discussed and considered, the report says.

Currently, buyers can purchase a minimum 35 per cent stake in a property, with Housing Solutions buying the remaining share and letting it back at an ‘affordable’ rent.

The Voluntary Right to Buy scheme allowing social housing tenants to buy their home could also be replicated in the borough.

The scheme launched in October with five housing associations, none of which operate in Windsor and Maidenhead.

Further investigation and clarifications on Government funding are needed before any scheme is considered in The Royal Borough, the report says.

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