Hartlepool housing chiefs hoping to add more than 150 new homes to existing scheme following success

Work is already underway to increase the number of council homes in Hartlepool after positive financial reports from the local authority for last year amid Covid-19 challenges.

Hartlepool Borough Council’s housing revenue account (HRA) reopened in 2016 and owns and manages more than 300 properties.

Council officers reported in 2021/22 the HRA, which is ring-fenced and separate from general local authority funding, managed to balance its books and break even.

Minor variances had arisen from lower than expected income, but these had been offset by expenditure savings.

Hartlepool Borough Council

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A report of the council’s director of resources and development Chris Little highlighted how the positives came despite challenges faced in the past year, while growth is also already underway in 2022/23.

It said: “Whilst the capital programme has suffered delays due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, 2021/22 did see development restart.

“During 2022/23 properties [will be] available to HRA tenants from Hill View development and new schemes are underway with Newmarket and Brenda Road Phase 1.”

The council was also able to increase its housing stock from 307, in April 2021, to 309, by the end of March 2022.

As well as providing properties by building homes, the report noted the council has also purchased and refurbished six empty properties since April 2020.

This has been done using a combination of “funding sources, including grant assistance from Homes England”, and the council report added more work is planned in this area.

It said: “All empty homes have had refurbishment completed and are now fully let to tenants.

“A new programme of empty homes for 2022/23 onwards is to be devised and bids placed to Homes England to support delivery.”

Earlier this year council chiefs said plans were in place to grow the HRA stock by 50% in the coming years, with ambitions to increase the number of properties to 460.

Councillors have also voted to increase rents by 4.1% in 2022/23, in line with Government policy limits of 1% plus inflation as measured by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI).

Council chiefs said the rent increase was needed as part of the strategy to help ensure the HRA remains financially viable.

It followed two years of rent freezes by the local authority.