AN INVESTIGATION is being called for after a housing association was accused of not delivering its promise to prioritise key workers at new apartments in Stratford.
Fordham House – located on the corner of Birmingham Road and Clopton Road – has 82 apartments available for private rental with priority given to workers such as nurses, firefighters, and teachers.
The £10.4million property opened in September and was hailed as a ‘blueprint for the rest of the country’ by Stratford MP Nadhim Zahawi.
But landlord Orbit Housing Association has been criticised for not delivering its agreement with Stratford District Council to provide affordable homes to those in public services.
According to figures supplied to the council, of the 67 apartments currently let, only four renters qualified as ‘key workers’.
Liberal Democrat district councillor Peter Moorse said: “I think councillors and particularly those on the planning committee will be very surprised to learn that such a small percentage of flats have been let to key workers.
“The outcome is extremely disappointing and at next month’s council meeting the Lib Dems will be calling for a full investigation by the council into the situation.
“I have no doubt that the rules around advertising the flats have been complied with but we need to know why the take up by key workers was so low. Was it the rent level or were there just not many key workers needing accommodation in the first place?
“It’s worth noting the council can expand the definition of key worker and we will be asking for this to be reviewed as well.”
In response to the accusations, the landlord said ‘key workers’ were prioritised in the event two people applied for the same flat.
An Orbit spokesperson told the Observer: “We are proud to offer a range of housing options for local people in Stratford.
“The majority of our 6,000 homes are available on a social or affordable rent basis, usually with a five year tenancy. Fordham House is different – it is a market rent scheme with shorter term rental agreements, built without government subsidy and as a result, is more expensive.
“As part of the Section 106 agreement with the local authority, key workers receive priority if more than one person applies for the same apartment.
“This is one of the fastest growing housing types in the UK, providing flexible homes for people who may wish to move for jobs or keep their options open before deciding where to buy.”
The agreement also requires any profits made to be reinvested which Orbit does so into other ‘new social and affordable homes and other projects’.
One bedroom flats at Fordham House start at £695 per month, rising to £895 for a two bed.