MORE than 600 people in the Minehead area will still need low-cost housing even after new council houses in the town have been completed.
Somerset Council is building 54 low-carbon properties on the Rainbow Way site, off Seaward Way, to deliver the first new council houses in Minehead for a generation.
The homes are expected to be completed by next summer, with the first properties being offered to those with a local connection to the town in the spring.
But even after all the properties have been allocated and occupied, hundreds of people will still be in need of housing in the West Somerset area, according to the council’s Homefinder service.
The Rainbow Way site is divided into nine blocks, with 21 homes being delivered across blocks one to six and a mixture of 33 one and two-bedroom flats being delivered in blocks seven to nine.
Blocks one to six are expected to be completed by the council’s contractor Classic Builders in March, while the three blocks of flats will be finished and handed back by the summer.
The new homes are being fitted with solar panels and air source heat pumps and are being constructed from porotherm blocks to aid with heat retention, and will also have electric vehicle charging points.
Within eight weeks of Classic Homes giving notice of completion, the properties will be advertised on Homefinder Somerset, which allows people in need of housing to ‘bid’ for council properties.
Housing development management specialist Wendy Lewis said: “We have a local lettings policy in place to prioritise those with a local connection to Minehead and the surrounding parishes of Minehead Without, Selworthy, Wootton Courtenay, Timberscombe, and Dunster.”
Somerset as a whole has been experiencing a huge demand for one and two-bedroom properties, which are typically not offered by the larger commercial housing developments.
Between April 1, 2022 and March 31, 2023, the number of bids for one-bedroom properties on Homefinder across Somerset outstripped the number of available properties by nearly six to one.
The number of bids for two-bedroom properties across Somerset in the same period outstripped the number of available properties by around three to one, according to official council figures.
In Minehead, Watchet, Williton, and the surrounding villages, there are currently 708 people on the housing waiting list, of whom 409 have requested a one-bedroom property and 158 were seeking a two-bedroom home.
Minehead had the greatest need with 308 applications, including 193 for one-bed housing and 66 for two-bed housing.
Watchet was second with 132 applications, 79 for one-bedroom homes, 31 for two bedrooms, and Williton was a close third with 111 applications, 52 for single bedroom homes and 35 for two bedrooms.
The council said it had let nearly 2,200 properties through Homefinder in the year to March, 2023, and nearly 37,000 properties since the service was launched in 2008.
However, it admitted the high demand for local properties could put pressure on housing stock elsewhere in the county, with families having to look further afield.
A spokesman said: “Households may have wait longer or may not be successful in their bidding.
“They may have to consider a wider area, and will need to consider all housing options.
“The situation has seen increases in the number of households in temporary accommodation, and makes it more difficult for households to move on from temporary or supported accommodation.
“When short-listing potential tenants, landlords undertake a verification process to assess someone’s suitability as a tenant and their finances.
“Landlords must provide a reason for rejecting an applicant.”