Tunbridge Wells’ largest housing association has confirmed it voted in favour of a deal on the right to buy scheme, saying it is ‘happy’ with the new proposals.
Bob Heapy, the chief executive of Town & Country which has controlled most of the social housing in Tunbridge Wells since 1992, backed a com-promise struck with the government.
The deal includes exemptions to some stock and allows tenants to buy discounted homes elsewhere if the association does not want to sell stock, put-ting less pressure on areas with tight supply.
It was backed by 86 per cent of members of the National Housing Federation, the body governing housing associations, in a vote which closed on October 2.
A spokesman for the housing association said: “We are committed to work-ing with the government to help deliver their priority to increase home owner-ship.
“The National Housing Federation has on behalf of its members negotiated proposals on how the scheme would work in practice and we are happy with the proposals.”
“We will await the detailed right to buy guidance that will be published by the government in due course.”
Town & County is not expecting a sudden rush to take advantage of the scheme.
The association confirmed is has had an average of two enquires a week on the scheme since the government first announced the plans. And it said these would not necessarily lead to sales.
But the spokesman said the association has carried out ‘detailed sensitivity and forecast analyses’ for its business plan in case interest increases.
Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark, who has over-seen the right to buy policy as communities secretary, said: “We’re determined to ensure home ownership is seen as a reasonable aspiration for working people.
“Right to buy is a key part of this, offering a helping hand to millions of people who would have no hope of buying their own home without it.
“The historic agreement with housing associations and the National Housing Federation will extend that offer even more widely, while at the same time delivering thousands of new affordable homes across the country.”
But Goudhurst Parish Council chairman Antony Harris warned: “My worry is that if council and housing association stock is sold, the money won’t be re-invested in the boroughs and parishes in which the stock was sold.
“If that happens, you have a housing problem in the next generation. That’s obvious and every-one knows it, but nobody seems to be taking it seriously.”
WHAT DOES THE NEW POLICY MEAN FOR TENANTS?
Town & Country was previously not a right to buy landlord, although anyone who was a tenant during the transfer of housing stock from Tunbridge Wells Borough Council in 1992 was able to buy their home.
Under the extended scheme, housing association tenants in Tunbridge Wells will be able to buy homes with a discount of up to £77,900.
The government will compensate Town & Country for the discount and allow it to keep the money from the sale to reinvest in building new homes.
Housing associations have discretion not to sell a particular property in some limited circumstances for example if it is in a very rural area and cannot be replaced, or if it is adapted for tenants with special needs.
In these cases, housing associations will offer tenants the opportunity to use the discount to buy alternative homes from either their own or another association’s stock.