Rother residents are to be asked to share their views on how to address housing and homelessness pressures within the district.
At a meeting of Rother District Council’s overview and scrutiny committee on Monday (September 10), councillors gave their backing to a draft consultation paper which will form part of the council’s new housing and homelessness strategy.
A final decision will be made by the council’s cabinet at a later hearing and, if approved, the consultation is expected to be launched on October 15. It would last for six weeks closing on November 26.
Before signing off on the draft consultation process councillors suggested a number of groups which should be approached for their views – with parish councils and Bexhill Town Forum among those mentioned.
Meanwhile Cllr Susan Prochak (Lib Dem. – Salehurst) asked what else the council could do to spread awareness of the consultation.
She said: “I know we haven’t got the resources to do this any other way but it is talking to people that gets them to respond, not by an email and an attachment with a ‘please fill out this questionnaire.’
“We used to have parish meetings with East Sussex County Council. That would have been a good forum to talk about this because everywhere you go people are concerned about housing and homelessness and affordability, whether it is the villages or Bexhill.”
Responding to Cllr Prochak, Rother District Council’s chief executive Dr Anthony Leonard said: “I would welcome members taking this to the parish councils and getting feedback in effect. I also welcome them talking to those with an annual survey, maybe bringing this out with the survey and seeing what response we get.
“There is a role for members to get as much information from residents and parish councils as possible. We can only do so much, we don’t have the resources to do door knocking anymore.”
While the draft consultation has yet to be approved by the council’s cabinet, the final version is expected to seek views from local groups and individual residents on a number of proposed policy areas.
Proposals include the setting up a number of services to prevent homelessness, such as a social lettings agency and a new multi-agency forum.
The final consultation is also expected to seek views on the council setting up a social housing company – or else forming a public/private partnership – with the aim of building or buying emergency and temporary accommodation in the area.
Residents are also expected to be asked for their views on purchasing and developing so-called ‘stalled sites’ where planning permission has been granted but no building work has begun. These could be acquired through Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs), according to the draft consultation document.