AMBITIOUS plans have been unveiled that will see 500 council houses built within the next three years.

In its biggest housing scheme in generations, Fareham Borough Council has said the investment in council housing is imperative to meet demand in the town.

Already the authority has mapped out plans to deliver 58 affordable homes by 2017, costing £8.2m.

The council wants to bid for funding from the Government’s Homes and Communities Agency, which has set aside money specifically to finance such projects.

Council leader Sean Woodward said that, even if the bid is unsuccessful, the authority would find the money to fund the project.

Plans include a new £5.5m 36-unit sheltered housing scheme at Coldeast, in Park Gate, six energy-efficient homes in Coldeast Close, Sarisbury, for £854,000 and 16 one-bed flats in Palmerston Avenue costing £1,850,000.

Further areas identified for consideration for council homes are Bridge Road and Holly Close, in Sarisbury, the rear of Menin House and Privett Road, in Fareham, and Castle View Road and Newtown in Portchester.

Councillor Woodward said Fareham borough had the second highest percentage in the country of owner-occupied properties. Of the 46,000 homes in Fareham, only 2,300 are council housing, which was “very unusual” for a local authority.

At present there are 1,300 families on the borough’s housing waiting list Cllr Woodward pointed out that the council had only built around half a dozen council houses in the last 25 years.

He said: “There’s a huge housing need in Fareham. Why should people who are born in Fareham not be able to find somewhere to live in Fareham?”

The homes will be in addition to the 6,000 proposed for the controversial new community at Welborne to the north of Fareham, which will go before a planning inspector later this year after consultation finished last week.

That development will provide 2,000 affordable homes if it gets the go ahead.