WINCHESTER civic chiefs are intent on pressing on with building 1,000 new homes by 2031, a meeting heard.

The city council has built 372 since it launched the initiative with the latest to be completed the 77 homes in The Valley in Stanmore.

They are due to be officially opened later this year which is the centenary of the completion of the first houses on the Stanmore estate.

The council’s initial target was 30 a year with 300 in total but the council under both main parties have increased their ambitions.

The 372 includes 287 new builds, some 65 purchased and 20 at Emmaus and Trinity, the city council business and housing committee heard.

The council is still considering setting up a stand-alone company that would sub-market rented housing with the focus on Winnall.

Council director Richard Botham said the key issue was securing land and more than £250m has been set aside to make purchases in the future.

It is easier to build houses since the Government lifted restrictions on borrowing in 2018.

Several new homes have been created in former common rooms at council property in Stanmore.

Cllr Jamie Scott, himself a council tenant, asked: “Are we going to live to regret taking away the common rooms and library branch? Covid shown there are a lot of people in isolation. There are no spots for people to gather because those spaces are now homes.”

Cllr Hugh Lumby questioned whether the council was building in the right places. He said there was a big demand in Owslebury with 13 people on the waiting list but no plans to build. Yet Whiteley with 15 people on the list is the place where the council is buying 58 homes. “We are doing a lot one area where there isn’t demand and ignoring the areas where there is demand like Owslebury.”

Cllr Lumby said he had heard that 80 per cent of the rental properties on the Isle of Wight had been lost in the last year. There has been no decline in in Winchester, the committee heard.

Cllr Scott said he would like stronger links between the city council and the potential tenants. “We need to crack the nut in local lettings and make local people have access to new homes that are being built. The good old-fashioned area housing officers should be restored so young people know who to go to. We used to have it in the good old days and we need to bring those days back.”