MORE than 700 new homes need to be built annually in Rushmoor to meet the growing demand for affordable housing, according to a major survey carried out in the borough.

The Housing Needs and Stock Condition Survey was commissioned by Rushmoor Council and carried out by Fordham Research last year. It covered all areas and types of housing in the borough and included 989 detailed interviews and 1,491 postal questionnaires.

It found that compared nationally, Rushmoor has a young housing stock, which is in relatively good condition. However, the consultants still found £5.2 million worth of urgent repairs that need to be carried out to the homes of owner-occupiers on low incomes.

The survey, the results of which have just been published, also revealed that 3,520 (11%) of all households in the borough are living in unsuitable housing. Of these, 1,113 households need to move within the borough to resolve their housing problems, but an estimated 959 (86.2%) of them cannot afford to buy or privately rent.

On top of that, there are a projected 930 new households needing homes each year. But, compared with the number of affordable homes being provided by housing associations in the borough, Fordham Research concluded that over the next five years there would be an annual shortfall of 737 homes.

Coun. David Welch, Cabinet member for Community, said: "The survey clearly demonstrates the overwhelming need for new affordable housing to help those local families on low and middle incomes.

"The survey gives the council the long needed evidence to justify its Housing Strategy and Local Plan policies, which will enable us to secure and fund new affordable housing for rent and shared ownership in the future.

"Over the next 12 months we will also review our grant giving policies to owners of property in disrepair and look at other innovative approaches to assist them."

All those who returned their questionnaires were entered into a prize draw for £100. The winner was Mr R Edwards of Farnborough.