PLANS to set up a council-backed housing company have taken a step forward after being debated by councillors.

The plans have been in the pipeline at Winchester City Council for a number of years, but they look to be getting close to reality.

Councillors at an overview and scrutiny committee last week backed the proposal, which will now go to cabinet and full council for consideration.

The company would be wholly owned by the council with the objective of delivering and managing rented and shared-ownership accommodation to help residents struggling to get on the property ladder.

The council has already agreed to back to the company to the tune of £10million, with council leader and housing portfolio holder Cllr Caroline Horrill telling councillors: This is not about making money, this is about delivering housing strategy.”

As previously reported, the council has recently increased its housebuilding target from 600 new homes by 2028 to 1,000.The company is expected to start trading in October.

According to a report that went before the committee, the company is estimated to generate post-tax profits of £13,000 in year one, increasing to £58,000 by year five.

It adds that there are currently around 150 housing companies in England, the majority of which are wholly council-owned and provide affordable housing as well as market housing for rent and sale.

Cllr Eileen Berry back the plans, saying: “I have absolutely no problem with this, it is so needed. We are giving people, and young people, a chance to have a home they can afford.”

After receiving reassurance on management, Cllr Martin Tod also gave his support, saying: “It’s great to see. It opens up opportunities.”

Cllr Lucille Thompson added she was “very happy” to support the plans.

The company is expected to being trading in October if the plans are approved by the council.