Blackpool Council is set to buy back council homes it sold as part of the Right To Buy scheme in order to meet demand for social rented housing. It could spend up to £100,000 on properties it sold in the past for £25,000, councillors were told.
But the authority says it makes sense because adding to its housing stock will bring in revenue and provide homes for people in need.
A five year Council Homes Investment Plan aims to see 300 new council houses built plus the acquisition of 250 houses which will be refurbished and re-let.
Approval has been granted for the purchase of the first 50 homes to go ahead.
Currently there are around 5,000 people in the resort on the housing register, awaiting affordable social housing – but only 600 properties a year become available.
Coun Neal Brookes, cabinet member for housing, told a meeting of the council’s tourism, economy and communities scrutiny committee: “There are numerous properties sold under right to buy that have gone into the private sector to be rented out.
“Some aren’t being properly maintained and if it’s possible to buy them back that’s better then having empty properties and absent landlords.”
Coun Gary Coleman said properties the council had sold for around £25,000 were probably now worth “in the region of £100,000”.
He added: “It seems we have had something snatched away from us and now we’re having to pay top dollar to get it back.”
Coun Brookes said the town was “crying out” for three-bedroomed homes.
He told councillors: “There are people waiting for a house so we might buy a house for £90,000 but every house becomes an asset. So we have to start somewhere.”
Right to Buy was introduced in the 1980 Housing Act and means long-standing council tenants are entitled to purchase their homes at a heavily discounted price.
To qualify for the scheme, an individual must be a tenant of at least two years’ standing.