WINCHESTER civic chiefs are well on course to hit their target of building 300 new council homes in ten years.

The full Council heard that 250 had been built, started or are about to start within five years of the programme being launched.

Housing portfolio holder Caroline Horrill outlined the success: * 57 homes completed in Itchen Abbas, Otterbourne, Stanmore, Weeke and Swanmore; * 92 being built at Victoria Court, Chesil Lodge on Chesil Street and Hillier Way, at Abbotts Barton; * work to start on 14 in January in Alresford and Stanmore; * and plans for 87, mainly in The valley, Stanmore, being drawn up.

Cllr Horrill said; "It is the overwhelming view of councillors that we should be building more. There are 2,300 people on the waiting list, waiting on average four years.

"We are constantly looking for new opportunities to bring new homes to the district."

The council is seeking other ways of helping, such as building homes to sell or with varied ownership, she added.

"We have to influence the market; we need to look at how to help people buy their homes. low-cost starter homes, modular homes that are cheap to build. We have to be creative."

One idea is to set up a housing company. The council is hampered by 'debt cap' rules so any major extension of the programme will require a separate vehicle, such as a “wholly owned company” to deliver and manage housing including a range of tenures.

Officers have been working with advisers from Trowers and Hamlins law firm to investigate options.

Cllr Horrill has approved £20,000 on a detailed business case.