Like all good landlords, we at Curo need to continually review our housing stock to ensure that it remains fit for the purpose it was intended. Of course, in our case, this was to provide affordable housing for local people.
Among our stock of 12,000 homes are around 600 Georgian properties, most of them listed within Bath city; a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In assessing whether these particular properties remain “fit for purpose” we need to take a number of factors into account, such as:
- the suitability of the stock for existing and future social housing residents;
- the need to maintain a healthy mix of tenures across the city;
- the architectural and historical value of some precious assets we have been fortunate to buy from the city; and
- the costs of bringing these properties up to an acceptable standard, compared with the costs of building a new, modern affordable home.
As you can imagine, these buildings carry some unique challenges and so we need to be very careful in our planning. For example:
- Some properties are almost impossible to convert to modern standards because of planning restrictions. This makes them difficult to access for people with mobility problems, or to heat - especially for people on low incomes.
- Others simply don’t have the space necessary to raise a young family nor a place to park a car.
So, as part of our on-going review of our housing stock, we are taking a good look at how some of these properties should be used in the future.
Our hope is that we can keep as many of them as possible, even when they no longer work as social housing. If we can’t then, regrettably, the only other option is for us to sell the property and to use the capital receipt to build another affordable home locally. This is something we have had to do from time to time already, as we have already built 1,700 new affordable homes.
However, what is new today is that we face a very sizable challenge given the economic situation. With less Government funding and increasing demands for housing, we have to be prepared to innovate, expand our thinking and consider a wider range of options.
As a result, we are now looking at how we might use the homes which we think are no longer fit for purpose as alternative forms of housing. In doing so, we will consider how these alternative uses – like market renting or short-term letting – would help address housing need, economic well-being and the numbers of empty homes across the city.
Where there are alternative uses for these properties that clearly work, we will implement them so that we address wider housing need and increase our income, enabling us to build more affordable homes in the district. That’s our commitment to Bath & North East Somerset and to our existing and future residents.