APPROVAL to spend nearly £700,000 on new homes around Bognor Regis has been given by councillors.
The funds will be used by Arun District Council to buy two semi-detached houses in the town centre and more than 30 in Barnham.
The sites are behind Glenlogie in Clarence Road and in a private development in Barnham.
Cllr Trevor Bence, Arun’s cabinet member for housing, said: “We are ahead of the game at Barnham. Half of that money will be spent with bricks out of the ground on those houses. But we are slightly behind the game at Glenlogie.”
The £691,000 comes from receipts from selling council houses and will increase the council’s housing stock. More homes will be built at Littlehampton.
Council members agreed to the spending at their full meeting last week. An alert was issued in the meeting to ensure a council-owned developer was free from suspicision.
Arun District Council is working towards creating a company to build homes across the district and sell them for shared ownership to buyers unable to afford market prices for properties.
Agreement in principle to set up the firm was backed by councillors.
But Cllr Dr James Walsh (LD, Littlehampton Beach) said he was unhappy the initial structure of the company would see its directors chosen and scrutinised by the council’s cabinet members.
This could lead to corruption, he feared. That had happened elsewhere in the country.
“I would want to have good assurances that scrutiny is not carried out by the same councillors who appoint the directors.
“It should be carried out by our overview scrutiny committee. That speaks for itself,” he said.
But he said he supported the idea of Arun developing housing on its own.
Cllr Gillian Brown, Arun’s leader, said Cllr Dr Walsh’s comments would be taken into account when the final structure was drawn up.
The new housing would help to provide homes for those who needed them and create the chance for the council to overcome the cutbacks in government funding.
“This is a very exciting opportunity to address the shortfall in revenue streams for this council,” she said.
Cabinet housing member Cllr Trevor Bence said Arun was modelling its operation on Lib Dem-run Eastbourne council.
Cllr Phil Hitchins (C, Aldwick W) said: “This is about giving this council the freedom to build housing and profit from it rather than a developer.”