NEARLY two million pounds spent on buying properties to house Afghan and Ukrainian refugees in West Devon will help the local housing crisis.
Three of the eight homes in Okehampton and Tavistock purchased with money from the Government’s Local Authority Housing Fund (LAHF), Homes for Ukraine scheme and Devon County Council are expected to be used to address wider housing pressures in the borough which is suffering from a shortage of properties to buy and rent.
Members of the borough council’s ‘hub’ committee were told that £412,000 from the council’s £1.5 million Section 106 pot – the cash the council receives from developers towards infrastructure projects – was match funding what it received in the latest round of LAHF funding.
A report for councillors said the purchase of the five properties in Okehampton was the largest part of the council’s expenditure in the first seven months of the 2023/24 financial year, amounting to £1.2 million.
One of the properties is temporarily occupied by a Ukrainian family and another three have been allocated to families from Afghanistan who are expected to arrive in the country this week. The remaining property is vacant and the council has been given permission for a change of use so it can be occupied by a local family.
Two of the remaining three homes in Tavistock will be for local households and will be available by the end of March. West Devon council is also converting offices at Tavistock Bus Station on Plymouth Road to create three flats for temporary housing at the cost of £650,000.
Other capital projects include replacing vehicles and a second railway station at Okehampton. Members approved spending £180,000 to replace vehicles. They heard the first payment had been received from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities for the new railway station and integrated transport hub at Okehampton, supported by the council’s bid for £13.4 million. Together with a large car park, the station will be easily accessible from the A30, and built at Devon County Council’s business park off Exeter Road. The project will be delivered with the county council and Network Rail.