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Gloucestershire Business News

How Cheltenham plans to tackle homelessness and affordable housing demand

Residents in Cheltenham are being asked to have their say on five-year plans to tackle affordable housing demand and homelessness.

Despite its affluent reputation, areas of the town have been named some of the most deprived in the country and it still has rough sleepers.

Cheltenham Borough Council has launched a consultation on draft documents which set out two strategies to tackle the issues.

They are the draft Housing, Homelessness & Rough Sleeping Strategy 2023-28 and the draft Tenancy Strategy 2023-28.

They show that the borough's population was 52,899 in 2021 and is projected to increase 8% by 2041, of which over 65s will increase by 47%, and over 75s by 72%.

A report from March 2023 showed there were 228 homes which had sat empty in the borough for two years or more, of which 103 were specialist retirement properties.

A staggering 6% of Cheltenham residents have a life limiting long-term illness and 213 additional affordable wheelchair accessible homes are needed in Cheltenham Borough between 2021-2041.

A 2019 government report said pockets of St Marks and St Pauls were considered to be among the top 10% most deprived areas in the country. And the Autumn 2022 Rough Sleeping Snapshot recorded eight rough sleepers in Cheltenham.

The draft strategies focus on the continued delivery of affordable homes, ensuring existing accommodation is the best that it can be, tackling homelessness and offering strong support services, and the health and wellbeing of communities.

There are currently circa 2,500 households on the housing list for social housing.

The council aims to tackle this by the provision of 450 more affordable homes by 2028, through investment of a further £80m of its £180m Housing Investment Plan through Cheltenham Borough Homes.

Energy efficiency and enhanced biodiversity ideas run throughout the housing strategy as part of the council's aim to hit net zero by 2030.

The feedback received from the consultation will help to shape a robust report for cabinet to consider in the summer.

Councillor Victoria Atherstone, cabinet member for housing, said: ''Our plans set out the actions that we will take - together with partners - to deliver the housing aspirations of our residents and communities.

"We work to the principle that all of our residents deserve a safe, affordable, green, enjoyable place to live, within well-connected communities that thrive. Our strategies set out clear principles that we will follow to ensure that we have a clear delivery plan which will take us to 2028 and that is dynamic and flexible to respond to change and opportunity.''

Martin Stacy, housing strategy and partnerships manager at Cheltenham Borough Council, said ''These are really important plans for Cheltenham and its future, and I hope that local residents, partners, community groups and stakeholders will take a look at them and share their thoughts.''

Residents have until June 6 to submit their responses and can access the consultation via haveyoursay.cheltenham.gov.uk/housing/housing-strategies  or by scanning the QR code above.

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