Anger as five social houses converted into one £560,000 property
PUBLISHED: 13:42 24 October 2019 | UPDATED: 14:08 24 October 2019
A council’s decision to redevelop five social houses as one half-million pound property has been lambasted by neighbours and a housing charity.
East Suffolk Council have turned five homes previously used for social housing into a five bedroom property with two annexes which has been put on the market for £560,000.
The property saw three flats reserved for people on low income or with particular needs converted into one house, with two attached bungalows converted into space for 'granny access or investment', according to the property's estate agents.
"We are concerned this is setting a precedent or is an example of things to come," said Ian Huggins, trustee of Eliza Dreyer housing charity which directly neighbours the property on Staithe Road.
The charity provides almshouse accommodation for pensioners in the town and own flats next to the property.
Mr Huggins said: "There is a demand for growing social accommodation. There is a loss of housing stock in the UK and in the town. We were disturbed to see the loss of five more flats."
According to Rightmove, the average price of a property in Bungay is £285,000, making the half-million pound property nearly twice as expensive as most others in the town.
Mr Huggins called the renovation an example of gentrification, saying: "There aren't many half million pound houses in Bungay and I can't think of anyone who would want to spend that much on a house with two parking spaces and a tiny garden."
The mayor of Bungay, Sue Collins, said the town approved plans for East Suffolk Council to renovate the house, "because we took into account difficulties for the current flats which were poorly conceived and had noise problems".
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It was also approved on the basis that social housing would be replaced elsewhere in the town by East Suffolk Council.
Rory Robertson, director of Hardiman's estate agents, said: "Is it a waste of taking away housing? I don't think it is. The council is maximising the value of the building to sell it and convert that monies into more social housing. It's an unusual property but we have had some interest."
But Mr Huggins warned: "It looks like property speculation, I would have hoped for a consultation."
Councillor Richard Kerry, East Suffolk Council's Cabinet Member for Housing, said: "Mindful of the financial pressures faced by many of our tenants, the Council tries to ensure that its properties are as easy as possible to heat and maintain.
"After reviewing these particular properties, it became clear that the three poorly arranged flats and two other attached properties were unsuitable for affordable housing in their then state, and that there is a very low demand for this kind of property in the area.
"It has been the Council's approach for some time to sell such properties on the open market and to reinvest the proceedings made from the sale into new and more suitable affordable housing which will suit the needs of our tenants now and in years to come.
"The Council currently owns over 4,500 properties and after many years has started building homes again. Last year we delivered 60 new properties and plan to deliver many more."