Royal Borough to provide housing opportunities aimed at key workers

Grace Witherden

Grace Witherden

Royal Borough to provide housing opportunities aimed at key workers

Housing opportunities aimed at attracting more key workers into the borough will soon be provided by the council.

Last night at a cabinet meeting, councilors agreed with a report on key worker housing. It would see up to 1,000 properties added to the Royal Borough’s property portfolio which will be rented out for ‘key workers’ including teachers, social workers, police and health staff.

Speaking at the meeting, Heidi Swidenbank, headteacher at Cox Green School, spoke about the difficulty of hiring teachers at the school due to the high rent prices of the area.

She said: “We want fantastic schools but the only way to secure that is to ensure staffing is stable and of the highest quality.

“We are finding it extremely difficult, if not impossible to recruit to the standard we would hope to and many adverts have to be advertised again and again and receive little or no applications.

"The housing market in this area is equivalent to that of London, where teachers do not only get London weighting but access to key worker housing. To attract the staff that we want, parents want and children want we need to ensure there are some incentives."

Properties owned by the council would be refurbished with s106 money for affordable housing and managed through the council’s trading company RBWM Property Company Limited (formally Two5Nine)

Councillors were very supportive of the scheme, with Cllr David Coppinger (Con, Bray) saying he was ‘very excited'.

Cllr MJ Saunders (Con, Cookham) said: “I've had this issue on my radar for a while and I've been poking and prodding at it during my time out of cabinet.”

However, Cllr Malcolm Beer (Ind, Old Windsor) said he didn’t think that prison officers or highways agency workers should be included in the definition of a ‘key worker’.

Cabinet agreed to the recommendations made on the report, which also included officers working with housing associations to deliver shared ownership schemes.

Also discussed at the cabinet meeting at the Windsor Guildhall: 

  • Cabinet agreed on a report about homeless housing and agreed to two council-owned buildings being turned into a day centre and a halfway house for use by the homeless.
  • The installation of a footpath on the Wraysbury Railway Bridge was agreed, which will cost the council £135k.
  • The Highways and Transport Capital Works 2016/2017 programme was agreed. This is a £9m programme and lists what highways schemes the borough will work on this year.
  • Cllr Natasha Airey, (Con, Park) and Cllr David Evans (Con, Hurley and Walthams) were appointed as trustees to the Windsor Royal Free and Industrial Schools Trust.  
  • Lead member for finance Cllr MJ Saunders (Con, Cookham) gave a financial update which revealed the council had a ‘modest overspend' of £163k.

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