According to the Times today, Gordon Brown could announce as soon as next Tuesday a ‘mortgage rescue’ package – a series of measures aimed at encouraging councils and housing associations to offer struggling homeowners financial help in return for a financial stake in their homes. The newspaper understands that town halls will also offer first-time buyers help with deposits in return for a small equity stake, and local government will also be given extra money to buy empty, unsold, new property. But the government appears to have vetoed a proposal to allow councils to compete as mortgage lenders, and has withdrawn plans for a stamp duty holiday.
The eco-town saga rumbles on as Tesco confirms it has pulled out of one of the proposed developments. Tesco owns 80 per cent of the land that was going to be developed into Hanley Grange, a 12,000-home town near Cambridge. After opposition from local campaigners and councils, Tesco announced yesterday that it was dropping the eco part of the proposal, but may try to press ahead with a conventional development. This takes to a quarter the developers on the shortlist for 15 eco-towns who have now abandoned the project.
And local opposition has also given hope to some residents in east Manchester who feared their homes would be demolished as part of a regeneration scheme. Around 550 homes on Toxteth Street are facing compulsory purchase orders under the government’s Pathfinder scheme where their homes will be pulled down and replaced with two and three storey townhouses, and while many owners sold up, about 70 people are still holding out. They are arguing that compared with demolishing the properties, the community benefits, environmental impact and cost of ‘rehabilitiation and refurbishment’ will transform the area.
The government has released its code of guidance that local housing authorities should take into account when framing their allocation schemes to offer a choice of accommodation to housing applicants. The guidance says that choice-based letting schemes can have a positive impact on the way social housing is viewed.