WILTSHIRE Council "could do so much more" to address housing problems, says the leader of its Labour group.

It comes after the council announced it has exceeded its target for the delivery of new affordable homes in the county for the year 2021/22, and it has plans to build more in the coming years.

The council surpassed its target of 650 affordable housing completions in the last financial year by six per cent, as a total of 688 new affordable homes were completed for occupation.

The target comes from the council’s policy in the adopted Local Plan (Core Strategy), which sets out the delivery of 13,000 affordable homes over the plan period, from 2006 to 2026; this equates to a current target of 650 affordable homes per year.

Councillor Richard Clewer, leader of Wiltshire Council and Cabinet Member for Economic Development, said: “We know just how important affordable housing is to our communities, and that’s why we’re working hard to deliver – and exceed – the targets set out in our Core Strategy.

“One of the key themes of our business plan is that residents have access to high-quality affordable housing – and that’s why we’re investing in affordable homes and will continue to do so.

"We recognise that there is more to do to provide affordable homes for the people of Wiltshire, and that’s why we’re working to secure the affordable homes required through planning policies.

“It will always be a challenge to provide enough affordable homes to meet demand, but as an authority, we are helping to build as much new housing stock as we can by working with the Wiltshire Housing Development Partnership – and we’ll continue to do so.”

But Labour group leader councillor Ricky Rogers said the new homes are set at rents that are 'far from affordable' and were often similar to private mortgage re-payments.

Cllr Rogers added: “Wiltshire Council could do so much more, still too many council owned sites are being sold on the open market or locked in reserve, in Salisbury alone Grosvenor House/Riverside and the Engine Shed sites could produce hundreds of affordable Council Homes.”

An 'affordable home' is one let at 80 per cent of current market rates.