East Devon District Council is planning to set up a housing company to build new homes in the district and meet an ever-growing demand for property.

The council believes the company is a long–term sustainable solution to increase the supply of houses in the area – for sale or rent – and to meet the need for good quality homes.

It’s an innovative approach to a long term problem in the district and the council is now drawing up a business plan to move the project forward. The council’s proposals are consistent with the Government’s housing white paper which is encouraging growth in the housing market.

The council is already a social landlord and manages its own council housing stock of around 4,200 properties. As part of its council stock portfolio, the council has built and bought homes. Recently the council has redeveloped a Victorian house into a shared property with en-suite facilities. A local housing company is seen as a natural extension of the council’s role.

A careful appraisal of setting up such a company has been carried out and there will be strict governance controls in place. This is to allay any fears that the council will build or buy well outside our local area.

East Devon is among many councils in the country who are establishing housing companies to directly build new homes for rent and sale in their areas. Amid increasing government reductions to council funding, the company would also generate income for the council which will be used to benefit our local residents.

The company, which would be wholly owned by the council, would be financed by the council and any profits would come back to East Devon District Council.

The benefits of setting up a company, which are outlined in an EDDC Cabinet report last month, would be opportunities to buy and let existing homes, including acquiring properties from developers, with the possibility of developing council-owned land or land bought through the open market. The company would be run as a business by a board of directors.

A business plan is now being put together and a further report will go before the council on progress.