WEST Berkshire Council (WBC) is considering setting up its own housing company to help address the shortage of affordable accommodation in the district. 

The housing company would be similar to one set up last year in Bristol, according to Councillor Hilary Cole (Con, Chieveley & Cold Ash), the lead for economic development and planning. 

Goram, owned by Bristol City Council, is planning its first development with 268 homes — 55 per cent of which will be affordable. 

READ MORE: Pilot to pay for climate crisis plans is EU-funded

Cllr Cole was responding to a public question from Neil Taylor at a meeting of the executive on December 19. Mr Taylor had asked: “What positive steps is the council taking to alleviate the housing crisis?” 

Cllr Cole said: “We are investigating setting up a local housing company, similar to the one in Bristol.” 

The Bristol company gives the city council more control over how sites are developed, and more influence over what is built and when. 

READ MORE: New youth centre gets the go-ahead with huge climbing tower

Cllr Cole also highlighted the regeneration scheme in Market Street, Newbury, due to finish in 2021. She said: “This will deliver 232 homes, 219 of which will be available for private rent and 13 for shared ownership.”

The council asks housebuilders in West Berkshire to make a portion of new homes ‘affordable’, which means mortgage payments or rent aren’t more than 30 per cent of a household’s net income. 

Cllr Cole said: “We are probably one of the only local authorities in the country which demands 40 per cent of affordable housing to be delivered on new developments on greenfield and 30 per cent on brownfield sites.”

Mr Taylor said: “It may be demanded but nevertheless the Market Street development was eight per cent, I believe.” 

According to the leading contractor for the Market Street regeneration, Engie, just 13 of the 232 homes will be affordable — less than six per cent. 

Elsewhere, Cllr Cole highlighted WBC’s plans for delivering 551 new homes each year, and said the council is currently above target. 

She also mentioned a rent incentive scheme to secure more private rented accommodation, and a joint venture with housing association Sovereign to build more affordable homes for the district. 

Bristol City Council has set up two other companies: Bristol Waste and Bristol Energy.