SENIOR officers at Bromsgrove District Council and bdht representatives will hold discussions over the next few days to ‘ensure the very best outcome for our residents and all those who secure a home on the former Council House site’.
It comes after a disclosure at the full council meeting last night during a discussion on an item which asked councillors to vote on giving delegated authority to the Deputy Chief Executive to and the Head of Legal, Equality and Democratic Services to accept an offer from bdht.
It stated the 18 affordable homes at Burcot Lane would be sold for £600,000 more than their value.
It was stated the 12 social rent and six shared ownership properties were valued at £1.5million but bdht’s offer was £2.1million.
A council spokesperson told the Standard this afternoon about the discussions and added: “Bromsgrove District Council and bdht have the same aim and objectives, and equally want the same outcomes – to provide excellent quality affordable housing for our District, so our residents can continue to live and work in their hometown.
“The valuation figures that were stated at council were based on a range of assumptions and it is important to remember that this authority is also investing significantly into affordable housing for families.”
At the meeting Coun Luke Mallett questioned the figures and was told by Coun Shirley Webb, portfolio holder for strategic housing, it was the ‘contractual position’.
She added: “We work very closely with them (bdht) and we’re all committed to affordable housing in the district.”
Coun Luke Mallett said: “Surely this is like robbing Peter to pay Paul and the cash should be put back into affordable housing and not general funds.”
He put forward an amendment to guarantee the extra cash on top of the market value would be ringfenced for future affordable housing.
Several members said they felt uneasy as it appeared the council would be ‘profiting from affordable housing’.
But the vote was lost 17-12 with all Conservative councillors voting against and members from all the other parties voting for it.
Further debate ensued when leader Coun Karen May said it was an ongoing project and any surplus made would be reinvested into housing projects.
She said the council was committed to cutting the district’s average housing price to median salary ratio which was currently 10.8 in Bromsgrove – higher than many other parts of the country.
“We have 30 to 39-year-olds who are moving out of this area because they cannot afford to buy a house here.
“We want everyone to be able to grow up here, prosper here and to be able to work in this district.”
Coun Webb added the additional funding would go back into the Burcot Lane development.
With some councillors wanting it resolved on the night, it was mooted the press and public be excluded to get ‘all the questions answered which needed answering’.
A number of councillors said they wanted to support the scheme but not until everything was made clearer.
Coun Hunter then put forward a proposal to defer the motion until the next meeting so all questions could be answered and members would know exactly what they were voting on.
Deputy leader Coun Adam Kent, along with the majority of the other Conservatives, reluctantly accepted that would be the best way forward and it was deferred.
Afterwards, Coun May said in a statement: “It is a pity the full council could not get behind the recommendation this evening.
“We will work to ensure that all members support this extremely important recommendation next time”