PLANS to revitalise council housing in Caerphilly county borough have been described as a “golden opportunity” by a councillor.

Plaid Cymru’s Lindsay Whittle described proposals to build 46 new council houses as a “cracking start” to a wider programme aiming to tackle growing demand.

Earmarked new-build developments in Risca, Blackwood, Penyrheol and Trecenydd could make use of an Affordable Housing Grant (AHG) from the Welsh Government, a fund once solely reserved for housing associations.

The council will also consider bringing up to 1,500 empty properties across the borough back into use to replenish their council housing stock.

Cllr Whittle told a council meeting on Tuesday: “I’m used to criticising the council but I’m happy to praise them on this occasion. This is a golden opportunity that doesn’t come around very often.

“If there is money to bring those empty homes back into use, then house prices may come down so some of our people can afford their first home.”

Other proposals include buying, and potentially leasing private land, redeveloping existing council sites, and entering section 106 agreements with developers.

Currently there are around 4,300 people on the council’s common housing register awaiting general needs accommodation.

Of this figure, more than 1,400 are single adults and Cllr Whittle said the council should focus most of their efforts on rehoming the sizeable demographic.

“We need to give preference to single people as well, they are the forgotten people. They are staying with their parents longer and longer, and it’s not fair,” he said.

Increasing council housing supply is just one of three avenues the council is exploring to improve their housing stock.

A new programme of external and internal works on council-owned properties could begin in 2020/21 and 2025/26 respectively.

The council could also overhaul older people’s accommodation by reclassifying existing homes into sheltered housing or returning.