TAUNTON Deane Borough Council has u-turned on plans to provide 26 new 'social' properties in Wellington.

The properties - being built on the former site of the Weavers Arms Pub and 10 Woolaway properties - will now be a mix of 21 ’affordable’ properties, two shared ownership, and just three allocated as social housing for returning residents.

The council says the move is to widen the variety of ‘tenure’, meaning financial arrangements, that are available to residents throughout the Deane.

It was originally announced in January 2017 that the homes would be built as social housing as part of a £3.6million scheme.

The likely cost of the regeneration project is £3.64m – with almost £1m coming from receipts from Right to Buy sales. The council says the balance is funded by borrowing.

Cllr Terry Beale, Executive member for housing, said: “We are fully committed to providing homes that people can afford to rent or buy. At the Weavers Arms site we are regenerating the area around the old pub and replacing ten old Woolaway homes with 26 modern and energy efficient properties.

“The approach we are taking is supported by our tenants, through the Tenants’ Forum and the Tenant Services Management Board who can see the benefits for local people.

“There is a desperate need for affordable housing and we are doing our utmost to help by using money from Right to Buy and from rental income to build more homes for the people who are in need.”

‘Affordable’ rent is marked at 80 per cent of market value, whereas ‘social’ rent is around 50 per cent.

The affordable rent properties are still owned by the council and will be let in the usual way through the choice based lettings system, Homefinder Somerset.

The authority says introducing homes at affordable rent enables the building of more council homes.

The matter was discussed TDBC Tennant Services Management Board in September, and then at Wellington Town Council’s January meeting.

Mayor of Wellington, Cllr Gary James, said he was disappointed in TDBC for taking the decision without consulting the town council.

He said: “I am very disappointed in Taunton Deane for going ahead with this without any consultation.”

Cllr Janet Reed agreed with the plans, stating that the changes are justified.

She said: “As far back as 20 years ago it had been said council rents and housing association rents would start to align.

“There is nothing new in this method. Affordable rent is still a lot cheaper than private rent and councils need to change to more rent to put into developing more new builds. Benefits would cover affordable rent so if the tenant is on benefits is a non issue.

“This more than justifies the demolition of 10 properties, with more than double that to rent.”

Cllr Ross Henley said: “No one is saying that 26 new flats is bad. It’s a good story, but 26 council flats council could have been a great story.”