THE need for new, high quality social housing is a national issue.

Wigan Borough Council and its partners have been leading the push for new developments with a string of successful funding bids.  Recent years have seen the first new social housing in the North West to be built locally – including a £3.5m scheme in Leigh and similar developments in Scholesand other areas.

This morning  the Mayor of Wigan, Leigh Cllr Myra Whiteside, will lead a formal turf cutting ceremony, the first stage of the latest project in Leigh which will see a further 72 new properties built within the next six months.

“I am delighted to see this expansion of affordable properties,” said the Mayor.  “We are able to support people in need and I am proud to be a part of creating a new community in our town.”

The first stage of the scheme will see a new development of 10 two and three bedroom homes by Wigan Council in partnership with the borough’s arms’ length management company, Wigan and Leigh Housing.  They will be built to the latest standards including ‘lifetime homes’ which means they can be easily modified for people who may have special needs.

The homes are being built on the site of a former council sheltered housing scheme at Okell Grove, off Wigan Road.  It’s funded in part by the Homes and Community Agency through its Affordable Homes Programme 2011 -15.

Wigan Council’s head of housing, Peter Layland, said: “The HCA have funded us to build a total of 72 new homes between now and 2015. In addition to this, a further 90 new homes will be provided by the council’s Housing Association partners.  This is an excellent extension of the work that the council and our partners have delivered in recent years.  These homes will be available at affordable rents to people registered on the council housing waiting list and a local lettings policy will apply to ensure a sustainable community is encouraged.”

Joining the Mayor for Monday’s turf cutting ceremony will be senior politicians and officials, Jonathan Seddon, the MD of the contractor, Seddons, and his contract and site managers.

Mr Seddon says: “We are excited to be involved in this scheme which will create much-needed new affordable housing for local people.”

The building work is scheduled to be complete by February 2013.

Over the last two years, Wigan Council and the Wigan and Leigh Partnership have built over 100 new homes.  Adding in the new Housing Association properties and those built for shared ownership, this totals 235 desperately needed new homes for Wigan Borough.