Plans to to revitalise council housing in Caerphilly County Borough have been described as a “golden opportunity” by a councillor.
Plaid Cymru’s Lindsay Whittle described proposals to build 46 new council houses as a “cracking start” to a wider programme aiming to tackle growing demand.
Earmarked new-build developments in Risca, Blackwood, Penryheol and Trecenydd could make use of an Affordable Housing Grant (AHG) from the Welsh Government, a fund once solely reserved for housing associations.
The council will also consider bringing up to 1,500 empty properties across the borough back into use to replenish their council housing stock.
Cllr Whittle, ward member for Penryheol, told a council meeting on Tuesday: “I’m used to criticising the council but I’m happy to praise them on this occasion.
“This is a golden opportunity that doesn’t come around very often.
“If there is money to bring those empty homes back into use, then house prices may come down so some of our people can afford their first home.”
Other proposals include buying, and potentially leasing private land, redeveloping existing council-owned sites, and entering section 106 agreements with developers.
Currently there are around 4,300 people on the council’s common housing register awaiting general needs accommodation.
Of this figure, more than 1,400 are single adults and Cllr Whittle said the council should focus most of their efforts on rehoming the sizable demographic.
Blackwood independent councillor Nigel Dix questioned why the council’s plans did not go further.
He said: “I have to ask why only 46 new houses? When the council has land at Pontllanfraith as well as former school sites at Bedwellty and Oakdale.
“If the council really want to reduce the waiting list why not use these sites to build council houses. I fear this announcement is window dressing. To make a real and meaningful difference I ask that council priorities council land for council housing.”
• Reporting by LDRS.