THE HOUSING company owned by Shropshire Council is to consider branching out into the private rented sector.

Cornovii Developments Ltd, which was set up last year with a £14 million loan from the authority, says it wants to explore the possibility and will ask the council for funding in next year’s capital budget if it decides to proceed.

The company intends to build around 200 houses a year, developing up to 50 sites across the county, and has so far produced plans for its first three schemes at Monkmoor in Shrewsbury, Ellesmere Wharf and Ifton Heath, St Martins.

It was launched with the intention of addressing a shortage of housing in Shropshire with particular focus on building more affordable homes, both as affordable rent through a housing association or for sale as shared ownership.

A report to be presented to the council’s housing supervisory board at a meeting next week says the company now has ambitions to bolster the county’s private rented sector too.

The report, by Jane Trethewey, assistant director for homes and communities, says: “Cornovii Developments Ltd (CDL) are investigating entering the private rented sector and have commissioned research to be carried out.

“The private rented sector in Shropshire accounts for 16 per cent of the housing stock, of which 43 per cent are flats.

“The Council is supportive and welcomes further research.

“As highlighted in the council’s draft new housing strategy 2020/25; this sector ‘makes an important contribution to the housing offer and flexibility to directly support our continued job led growth for existing and incoming labour force.

“‘Traditionally, this sector has not been the tenure of choice, mainly due to

concerns of security of tenure and property conditions’.”

The report says the idea came about as the company began to explore “other ways in which it can address unmet housing need across the county”.

It adds: “CDL have recently issued a tender opportunity to a number of property consultancies to advise CDL and Shropshire Council on the market opportunities for private rental sector housing within Shropshire.”

The key objectives of the tender brief are to establish whether there is a market for private rental properties in the county, and if so, to define the property types, sizes and locations for which there is a demand, and the potential rental income.

Consultants will also be asked to recommend a model for Cornovii’s private rental offer, including costs, repairs, turnover and disposals, and produce a business plan.

The report adds: “CDL will use the findings from this report to support a business case for funding to deliver a comprehensive private rented sector housing offer for Shropshire.

“The aim will be to include a business case for private sector rented housing in Shropshire within Shropshire Council’s capital strategy in February 2021.”

The report will be discussed by the housing board at a meeting on Thursday, November 5.

Cornovii has recently been granted planning permission for its first development of 33 homes on the site of the former Crowmoor House care home in Frith Close, Shrewsbury.

Plans have also been submitted for its next two projects, and board members will hear next week that proposals for the former school site in Overton Road, Ifton Heath, have been re-drawn following community feedback.

The number of proposed properties has reduced from 40 to 36, and the existing caretaker’s house will be retained.

Ms Trethewey’s report adds: “This scheme was presented to the local member and the parish council in September and received endorsement.

“CDL will be submitting a revised scheme in November 2020.”