COLUMN: Hard work is paying off

Leader of Boston Borough Council Coun Peter Bedford.
Leader of Boston Borough Council Coun Peter Bedford.

I have great sympathy for young people these days finding a home to call their own. I have a son and a granddaughter, and I understand the worry that securing their own independence and putting a roof over their head brings.

Boston Borough Council has been working for years to help enable housing providers to bring a supply of affordable homes to the market, and it is pleasing to see all that hard work beginning to pay off.

Since 2012, as part of its housing strategy, the council has worked with housing providers to identify suitable sites and unlock funding to help build affordable homes – to rent and to buy. And to make purchase as painless as possible, there are shared ownership deals on offer.

The completion of 41 new affordable homes at Blue Street in Boston has provided smart new homes built to the latest standards and has brought into good use a previously derelict parcel of land.

Waterloo Housing Group has been a great partner to work with after the council ‘pump primed’ this scheme. A further 13 affordable homes have been built at Brothertoft Road by Waterloo, which is to deliver 48 homes at Broadfield Lane, Boston, in 2016/17, followed by 75 more in a secondphase in Broadfield Lane in 2017/18. It also has plans for 32 properties in Toot Lane in 2017/18.

Other affordable home schemes are being developed in Swineshead, Tytton Lane, Wyberton, and Old Leake. More than 300 new, affordable homes will be delivered through our partnership with Waterloo and a funding mix from the council, Waterloo, the Homes and Communities Agency and the Greater Lincolnshire Local Economic Partnership Housing Unlocking Fund; that means more than £25 million invested in homes for people in need over five years and that’s no mean feat.

The Blue Street scheme is on the former Pilgrim Foods depot. The development cost just over £5 million and received investment support of £157,000 from Boston Borough Council and £1million from the Homes and Communities Agency.

Our funding originally came from New Homes Bonus - £872,000 in total made up of £550,000 initially and £322,000 as tranche two. This, and our work with Waterloo Housing Group and with other partners on the GLLEP Housing Unlocking Fund has meant that that we have been able to secure much more investment and deliver many more schemes and affordable homes than originally planned.

We are still in the process of identifying potentially two further schemes for which we have funding.

Once you have your new home you need to furnish it, and it’s great news that Bensons For Beds has moved into the former retail unit occupied by Carpet Right, between Pets At Home and Halfords, off Queen Street. I don’t have a problem with shops changing use. It shows a retail market which is active. I do have a problem with empty retail units, so it is good news that this unit is still occupied

Any new business coming to town, and a national retailer at that, is certainly good news in my book.

Coun Peter Bedford is Leader of Boston Borough Council.