First council housing for nearly 30 years.

[L to R : Councillor Kevin Guy, leader of the council, Tim Richens, managing director, Aequus Group and Councillor Tom Davies, cabinet member for Adult Services and Council House Building.]

It’s taken nearly three decades to get there, but the first low-cost homes for social rent – owned directly by B&NES Somerset Council – are being advertised to potential tenants.

The former council offices at 117 Newbridge Hill have been converted by the council’s housing company Aequus Construction into seven one and two-bed affordable and energy efficient apartments.

The development is one of the first steps in Bath and North East Somerset’s initial £12m ‘B&NES Homes’ programme, which will provide the first 58 general needs council houses for rent to help met the demand for affordable homes in the area.

Councillor Tom Davies, cabinet member for Adult Services and Council House Building said: “The seven apartments available in 117 Newbridge Hill are the first general needs council houses provided by the council for a generation and represent the start of the council’s ‘B&NES Homes’ programme to directly deliver low-cost homes in our area. Councillors heard recently that the future pipeline of homes which will be delivered through the council’s ‘B&NES Homes’ programme already totals nearly 200 properties and this demonstrates the council’s commitment to play a direct role in the delivery of new low-cost homes which will transform the lives of the residents who live in them.” 

In line with the council’s Climate and Emergency commitments the refurbishment of the building included improved sustainability measures to lower the building’s carbon footprint such as replacement windows, additional insultation and low energy lighting. The development will also have electric vehicle charging points and cycle docks.

The apartments will be available through Homesearch, the council’s housing allocation scheme for social rent homes and low-cost home ownership in B&NES. They will be on Homesearch from 16 December for three weeks until 10 January. 

Given the proximity to the RUH and the current demands on the NHS and its staff, the flats are initially to be prioritised for National Health Service staff working in the electoral ward of Newbridge.

The full details will be on the Homesearch website from 16 December:

Photo (credit Clive Dellard) – from left: Cllr Kevin Guy, Leader of B&NES Council; Wera Hobhouse MP; Newbridge ward Cllr Michelle O’Doherty; and Cllr Tom Davies, Cabinet Member for Council House Building.

Bath’s MP Wera Hobhouse has welcomed the news. She commented:

“For years we Liberal Democrats have been calling for 300,000 new homes to be built in this country annually. These must be of a high standard, energy efficient and above all truly affordable. Instead, as our nation’s long-standing housing crisis deepens, the Prime Minister recently caved in to pressure from Conservative MPs, pulling a vote on legislation that would have set a target of building these much needed 300,000 homes per year. 

“Affordable housing is urgently needed in Bath. So many who carry out vital work in our city cannot afford to live here. Just over a year ago, my Liberal Democrat colleagues on B&NES Council approved the decision to develop a number of council-owned properties and sites as 100 per cent affordable council housing schemes. 

“I am delighted that tenants will soon be moving into their new homes on Newbridge Hill within walking distance of their workplaces.”

Cllr Kevin Guy, Liberal Democrat Leader of B&NES Council said:

“The delivery of 117 Newbridge Road is the next step in our council house building programme. The seven flats there have been designated for NHS key workers. This is a sustainable solution which will enable staff at the RUH to walk to work.

“We look forward to providing more affordable housing options for those residents who are unable to compete on the open market and might otherwise be forced to leave the area to reside and work elsewhere.”