Council Housing Chief defends latest £1 land sales

June 22, 2010 12:00 AM

Councillor Dale MulgrewAfter the recent announcement that Rochdale Council was to sell off three more plots of land at a £1 price tag to different housing associations, the Council's lead on housing - Cllr Dale Mulgrew has reiterated the reasons behind this policy move.

Cllr Mulgrew, whose Development Portfolio involves housing strategy, said, "Rochdale has a chronic housing shortage in both the social rental and affordable categories. In response the Council has always had a policy to sell land to 'not for profit' housing associations for a nominal amount, so that they can develop schemes that help meet the borough's housing needs.

There have been many examples of this socially conscious practice in Rochdale in the past. The sale of these three sites continues this practice as part of the current housing market renewal program.

This is a sound principle that is supported across the political spectrum.

Without this assistance, the Council would not be able to create much needed social rental opportunities, nor help develop new affordable family housing opportunities. This is because at actual land value, the schemes proposed for these sites would be financially unfeasible.

We could, of course, sell at land value, but this would only attract a specific type of private sector housing that would be out of the price reach of many people. Hence, our housing needs would still exist.

We have to be aware that we need to be able to offer a range of different housing options in the borough, and one way the Council can aid this flow is through the strategic use of its assets.

There was some ill content over a previous sale of land at Woodbine Street, but this was due in part to the planning processes associated with the scheme, not so much the policy behind the land sale.

Of course, there is also an economic benefit to this decision, as the sites will create business and employment for local firms.