NEW ‘council houses’ are to be built for the first time in decades in Wiltshire where the council has decided to unlock a £40 million treasure chest of housing funds to pay for the move.

In recent decades social housing has largely been run and built by not for profit housing associations so the news is a significant change.

The £40m will fund the first phase of the innovative scheme which will see Wiltshire Council working with local communities to create, own and run more affordable homes for families and elderly residents across the county. The plans, which would see new homes owned and managed by the council will also see money investment in refurbishing council housing.

On Tuesday the housing board agreed to the plans which would fund homes for elderly people on councilowned land in rural settlements, deliver extra care accommodation in market towns and invest funding in stalled sites where investment up front could incentivise developers to develop on sites more quickly.

Working with parish and town councils will be key to the plans and Wiltshire Council will soon be meeting representatives to establish whether each community could benefit from homes for older people or young families.

More than £40m, largely from the housing revenue account, which is money accrued from rents from existing council housing stock, will be used to fund the scheme over the next six years. Jane Scott, leader of Wiltshire Council said: “One of the main priorities for this council is to ensure we provide decent homes for local people. We are therefore looking at new ways to deliver both family homes and homes for older people.”

Keith Humphries, cabinet member for housing said: “We will be particularly looking to provide affordable homes for our older residents in rural communities so they can continue to enjoy and be part of their local communities.”