Move to tackle housing crisis

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A council could soon start building and buying affordable homes in a bid to tackle housing shortages.

Consultation has started on a joint council strategy aimed at tackling the lack of affordable housing in the Newmarket and Mildenhall areas.

Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council need to meet an increasing shortfall for affordable homes over the next twenty years.

The two councils, working in partnership under the banner of West Suffolk, said the recession drastically affected the number of new homes being delivered, while jobs cuts, pay freezes and increased living costs have all added to the demand for affordable housing.

Now the two councils, in recognition of the need to deliver more affordable housing options, are proposing to start building and buying affordable homes, as well as working with partners to bring empty homes back into use.

A consultation on the new West Suffolk Housing Strategy is underway and will run for four weeks until August 13 at 5pm.

Cllr Rona Burt, Forest Heath cabinet member for planning housing and transport said: “We know that we need to act more commercially if we are to get to grips with the shortage of affordable housing in West Suffolk.

“Relying on housing developers is not the answer. Buying and building them ourselves, and working with our partners to maximise the number of affordable homes, we believe, is the only way forward.”

Her opposite number on St Edmundsbury Borough Council Cllr Anne Gower added “Our concerns are for families living in inadequate housing or waiting for somewhere to move to, for three generations living under one roof because they can’t get on the housing ladder or afford a rented property and for elderly people stuck in houses they can’t manage any more but have no alternative.”

The consultation will include a number of partner briefing sessions. The consultation document can be viewed online or at the council offices in Mildenhall or Bury St Edmunds. You can write in or email your comments to