May 24 2013 Latest news:
Monday, March 18, 2013
Nearly 200 council-owned properties in Norwich have had to be sold with heavy discounts totalling £6.69m.
And Norwich City Council insists sales to its tenants under the government’s right to buy project (RTB) have had a “serious impact” on the number of council properties available in the city, while also preventing new ones from being built.
At the moment there are 4,297 people on the authority’s housing waiting list. Of these, 1,040 are in the top three categories, meaning their circumstances may include being threatened with serious and immediate violence, homelessness within weeks through no fault of their own or high medical needs.
Figures obtained by the Evening News show the city council has sold 173 properties since April 1, 2008, under the RTB project.
Norwich tenants have saved up to £75,000 when buying their council house, with properties valued at £16.88m being sold for £10.18m. The government keeps 75pc of the cash from each sale.
Victoria MacDonald, the council’s cabinet member for housing, said representations had been made to government ministers to address issues related to RTB.
Mrs MacDonald said: “Since its introduction in the 1980s the RTB has had a serious impact on council houses available within the city, and indeed the country, as it was forbidden to invest these ‘set aside capital receipts’ in new housing stock.”
People have the right to buy council properties after five years as a public sector tenant and/or a tenant of armed forces accommodation. Discounts are based on the length of a person’s tenancy.
Some tenants in Norwich have been eligible for the maximum £75,000 discount. They include a property in Beatrice Road valued at £165,000 and sold for £90,000 and one in South Park Avenue valued at £145,000 and sold for £70,000.
If a person who has bought under RTB sells the property within five years, they will normally have to pay the council a percentage of the resale value.
Chloe Smith, Norwich North MP, said: “I hardly think the 170 people who aspired to own their own home were wrong to want that, and I would be on their side even if the council is unhappy.
“We do need more homes overall in the area, but Norwich City Council needs to work with the government to achieve that.”