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Councillor calls for more house building to tackle homelessness in the borough

Building more homes is the key to tackling homelessness in the borough, according to the council’s deputy lead member for affordable housing.

Cllr Ross McWilliams (Con, Cox Green) outlined the council’s homelessness strategy for the next five years during a meeting at Maidenhead Town Hall on Monday.

He told members of the Planning & Housing Overview & Scrutiny Panel that the council needs to look at preventing homelessness before it becomes a reality as well as helping as many residents as possible into home ownership.

He said: “You need to create opportunities for people who are within social housing to move into affordable rent and then hopefully into private sector rent or affordable home ownership or market ownership.

“By building more homes you free up more social housing and housing association housing.”

The panel heard that in 2016, the council was contacted 9,353 times for assistance with housing needs.

Of those, 1,518 households were prevented from becoming homeless.

Five objectives have been set to tackle rough sleeping in the next five years.

These include reducing the number of households in temporary accommodation by 50 per cent by April 2019.

The council is also hoping to prevent homelessness by helping people access low-cost home ownership and working with residents to retain their current home.

Cllr Leo Walters (Con, Bray) told the panel it was a ‘fallacy’ that building more homes in the borough would reduce house prices and questioned whether developers would meet the council’s target of 30 per cent affordable housing at new developments.

A call for more permanent rented accommodation was also made by Old Windsor’s independent councillor Malcolm Beer.

Cllr McWilliams added: “What the 30 per cent is, is a target and aspiration that we want to reach.

“It’s about working with developers to see what we can do as a local authority to make them build more affordable housing.”

The panel approved the Homelessness Strategy for 2017-2022 and it will now go before the cabinet.

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