DECAYING houses need to be improved to stop vast swathes of Gloucester becoming derelict areas where ‘nobody wants to live’.
Council bosses have been warned that a lack of investment in social housing now would ‘decimate’ the homes of thousands of city residents.
Gloucester City Council is preparing to transfer its entire stock of 4,800 houses to Gloucester City Homes, who already manage the properties. Doing that will mean the council can clear its £62million housing debt and City Homes could borrow money to invest in the stock.
Consultant Angie Marshall-Smith warned: “Staying as we are is simply not an option.
“The homes structurally would not be sound and people would not be able to live in them. Since many are in blocks the decay would happen quicker over large areas.
“People would not want to live there and you would then have streets ruled by anti-social behaviour.
“This could become a £107million problem and it would just make it worse with an endless circle of going down and down.”
Andy Harley, chairman of the Gloucester City Homes residents’ panel, said: “If things stay the same we will find that our homes will begin to deteriorate because the money won’t be there to improve them.”
City council cabinet members agreed to send a bid off to the Government on Thursday to seek approval for the transfer.
The bid includes the creation of 100 new homes - 25 every year for four years - in an effort to cut the massive waiting list of people seeking a new home. They would be ‘affordable’ properties costing tenants £120 per week.
Gloucester City Homes would need to borrow up to £70million to improve people’s homes and build the new properties.
The council cannot borrow the money as it has reached the ‘debt cap’ limit, but as a private provider, City Homes could borrow.
Rent increases will be controlled by new Government guidelines based on the consumer price index plus one per cent.
“If tenants say ‘my rent will go through the roof’ the answer is no,” added Mrs Marshall-Smith.
Councillors have welcomed the plans.
Councillor Colin Organ, cabinet member for housing, said: “This has been a long road and there have been barriers, but I’m pleased that we have got to the stage where we are now ready to prove ourselves to the Government.
“This is not just about houses. This is about improving people’s lives and in turn reducing anti-social behaviour, improves retail trades and creates jobs. It has major impact on cities. It is really important to us.”
Councillor Fred Wood, cabinet member for performance and resources, said: “I see this as an exciting project. I am really pleased that we have got the figures down to a level where we can make it work.”