Friday, 8 September 2017

Council-owned land for social housing

There is a long history of social housing in the UK:
Futures Forum: "Streets Apart" > a history of social housing @ BBC Radio 4

Today, on the other hand, councils are being urged 'to make it easier for housing to happen'
- but not to build it themselves:
Futures Forum: "Giving councils more power to get housing built" - by getting them to calculate ‘objectively assessed need’

However, a former minister is interested in other models:
Futures Forum: Social housing: "As in so much of our political debate, we too often fail to look at other countries to see what works and what doesn’t. "

One model which might work is for councils to borrow:
Futures Forum: A solution to our housing problems: allow councils to borrow to build

Another would be to use the housing companies many councils have set up:
Futures Forum: Local Housing Companies >>> 'It is early days for this new model of house-building, but with their seeming commitment to quality design, the omens are promising for architects seeking work in the sector. Whether this model can bridge the gap in affordable housing provision remains to be seen."

And another would be to sell council-owned land to housing associations:
Futures Forum: A solution to our housing problems: sell council land for £1

As has happened in Sidmouth:
Futures Forum: Affordable Housing in Sidmouth: DCH and EDDC: project in Mill Street completed

The District Council could always do a little more in East Devon, perhaps:
Futures Forum: "Making the case for affordable housing on public land" >>> >>> Or: Why doesn't the District Council build affordable housing on its own land?

However, its priorities are rather different at Knowle, Manstone and Port Royal:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: and financing the Knowle relocation project >>> or: asset-stripping vs affordable housing

Other councils are considering being quite radical.

Some councils are giving away council-owned land to build housing:
Council could give away land to solve affordable homes issue - Newbury Weekly News
Whitefriars backs Coventry plan to give away council-owned land - Coventry Telegraph
£40k council-owned land given to developer for free (From South Wales Argus)

Others are making use of their new housing companies to build housing - rather than simply speculate elsewhere in the country:

Housing associations and councils: are we in a new age of partnership?


Funding models for shared ambitions

Since the advent of self-financing for council housing in 2012, local authorities have explored a range of means of building homes.

In the main, the principal method development councils have settled on is subsidiary companies that are wholly owned by councils and acquire land and develop across the full range of housing types and tenures. The resulting raft of new local authority companies has in many ways been the story of the past few years, in terms of councils and boosting housing supply.

Social Housing - Comment - Housing associations and councils: are we in a new age of partnership?

In Bristol, the council has release hectares of its own land:

How the council will help to build 2,000 new homes in the city A YEAR by 2020

Councillor Paul Smith is the man tasked with the role of hitting the target within the next four years


UPDATED11:45, 28 FEB 2017

Here's the pledge by Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees's new housing "czar": build 2,000 new homes a year by 2020.

That's not just council houses but the target for the annual rate of homes to be be built by the council, developers and housing associations by the end of the new mayor's term of office.

Paul Smith, who was the first member of the mayor's new cabinet to be announced, has been charged with the role of achieving this target within the next four years. And he set the ball rolling by releasing 80 hectares of council-owned land - about the same as 80 football pitches - which already have planning permission for housing and could be re-developed.

Councillor Smith, an expert in social housing, said the plan was to set up a council-owned company which would use contractors to build homes for sale or rent. The profits from the sales would go towards building new homes while the rents would be used to increase the council's borrowing power for further investment in housing.

He said: "This will not be a drain on the public purse - it will actually be a generator of income to help us build more homes." He said more homes also meant more council tax payers which would help to ease the strain on public service cuts.

Mr Smith was outlining the council's plans on a day when it was revealed that first time buyers are shelling out an average £212,000 for their first home. The city's housing crisis means the average cost of a home in Bristol is now a shade under £300,000. A pressure group called 'No Fixed Abode' says that 16,000 new homes are needed to address the acute shortage in the city.

Mr Smith admitted that 2,000 new homes was not enough but he added: "This is about making a start."If we don't take the first step, then we will never get anywhere. In Bristol, we have the capacity to build at least 20,000 new homes on the land allocated for housing. If we increase that land allocation, then we could take that total up to 30,000. But all those homes are not going to be built overnight - it's something that will take over a decade."

Mr Rees said: "Housing is the city's, and my, top priority issue. That's why I have appointed Paul Smith as my Cabinet lead. While there is a lot of effort being made, we need to do much more as it is clear that people across the city are struggling to access decent affordable housing."

How the council will help to build 2,000 new homes in the city A YEAR by 2020 - Bristol Post

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