CIVIC chiefs have admitted they are struggling with a £50m plan to build 300 homes in Winchester over the next decade.

Council leader Keith Wood said the programme had started slowly because the council had not built its own houses for more than 20 years.

It came after Cllr Chris Pines told a Cabinet meeting last Wednesday (March 13) he feared the council had lost momentum and asked for a progress report.

Cllr Pines said: “In view of the very slow start we have had so far to the affordable housing we are trying to achieve across the district, how far short are we on achieving the 30 properties this year?

“I have a suspicion that we are beginning to lose the impetus we are trying to maintain to provide affordable housing. Are we going to get anywhere near the figures we are aiming for in the next two or three years?”

The council announced the plans just over a year ago as a major scheme to provide more affordable housing and reduce its 4,000-plus waiting list.

Cllr Wood said: “It has not been easy for the council to go from building nil houses for the last 25 years to building a number very quickly and we do need to look again at the way we are working on this as the speed of delivery is not what was anticipated.”

But Cllr Ian Tait, portfolio holder for new homes delivery, disagreed and said officers were working as quickly as possible.

He said: “If anything our accountant is trying to rein officers in because of the amount of projects we have. We want to get a very clear message that there has been no loss of impetus or momentum in this scheme whatsoever and it is moving forward in a timely fashion.”

Cllr Tait added work had begun on developments in Micheldever, Itchen Abbas and Otterbourne but that it was unlikely the council would have finished 60 homes within two years.

He said: “I'm confident that within the first two years, although we will not have built the first 60 houses, we will certainly be a long way towards it and be on site for all 60.”

Cllr Victoria Weston added: “I agree we have not lost impetus on this and are moving forward and we are all very supportive of the scheme.”