DOZENS of properties have been reduced to rubble to make way for the building of the first council homes in Taunton for over 20 years.

The £12million flats and houses scheme will see Taunton Deane Council constructing 60 homes and Knighstone Housing putting up 30 in Creechbarrow Road.

The development represents a significant increase in better quality affordable homes that are cheaper to run thanks to high construction standards, while there will also be two blocks of flats for the active elderly and a communal play area.

Cllr Jean Adkins (Conservative), who holds the council’s housing services portfolio, said: “I’m used to wearing a hard hat from the days when I sold new homes, but I’m so excited to wear one now that I’m partly responsible for building the first council houses in Taunton Deane for so many years. It is a great privilege.”

Mike Day, director of development and homeownership at Knightstone, said: “We’re pleased to be working with Taunton Deane Council at Creechbarrow Road, helping them to complete their first development in over 20 years. It’s an exciting time.

“We’ve worked closely with the council for 40 years and are confident that this new development will provide residents with affordable homes built to a high standard.”

The Deane is able to build its own houses due to reforms in the way council housing is financed – previously the authority had to hand some of its rental income to Government.

But a change in the system means the council can now keep all the rental income, releasing money for new-build schemes as well as ensuring existing homes are kept in good repair.

Ward councillor Tim Slattery (LibDem) said: “This is great news for residents and it will be very exciting to follow the progress of the development and see people that are in need of a home of their own moving into their new property.

“This is a hugely significant moment for Halcon and our council and something I am immensely proud to be part of.”