Wokingham Borough Council’s innovative approach to housing has been recognised with nominations for the council and its subsidiary company, Wokingham Housing (WHL) at this year’s prestigious UK Housing Awards.
The awards, run by the Chartered Institute of Housing and Inside Housing, are the biggest of its kind within the housing sector. Wokingham Borough Council has been nominated for the strategic local authority award, which focuses on the relationship between authorities and partners to provide a committed approach to housing need. Meanwhile, WHL has been nominated for outstanding development programme of the year, which looks to recognise developers who have shown ambition, determination and innovation to deliver new homes.
As a council, Wokingham Borough has cemented itself as an innovator and market leader within a strategic approach to housing growth – including affordable housing. The council has been recognised for its collaborative working with housing associations and developers to secure the delivery of much needed private and affordable housing.
Wokingham Borough is consistently considered one of the best places in Britain to live. Unfortunately though this has meant that local house prices are amongst the highest outside of London as demand continues to rise – the average price is now almost half a million. However, the council’s strategic approach will see nearly 10,000 additional homes by 2020, accompanied by infrastructure including five new roads, two park and ride facilities, three sport hubs, seven primary schools, and five community buildings. In this financial year, 2017/18500 affordable homes are forecasted to be built, with WHL delivering a quarter of these.
WHL was founded back in 2011 as a subsidiary of the council. One of the first organisations of its kind in the UK, it is an original way to bridge the gap between housing demand and supply as well as help to generate a financial return for the council to support statutory services.
Every year the organisation aims to deliver at least 50 to 70 homes, and in the process generate £1million per annum for vital council services. WHL is delivering a number of developments to support the most vulnerable in our community. Last year the Phoenix Avenue development opened, providing 68 new social and affordable homes for rent, while older residents will be able to benefit from Fosters, an independent living scheme, which provides 34 one-bedroom self-contained, extra-care apartments.
Cllr David Lee, deputy leader and executive member for strategic highways and planning, said “Despite being the lowest funded local authority in the country, we have shown real innovation and determination in facing demand for housing and infrastructure head on. We are now delivering more homes than our original target of 30%. It is great that the council’s work, as well as the work of our subsidiary WHL, has been recognised with these nominations.”
Bill Flood, managing director of WHL added “Part of what makes WHL’s development programme outstanding is our ability to work with the council to address real housing demand, for different people in the borough. It was the council’s strategic ambition for creating WHL that has made this possible. I am delighted that both organisations have received this industry recognition.”
The awards will be presented at a ceremony in at Park Plaza Westminster Bridge in London on the evening of May 2, 2018.