When the The Housing Forum’s Development Partnership Forum met in June, the objective was to to discuss possible initiatives to stimulate the UK housing supply and the differing need for housing stock throughout the country.

Questions were raised as to can programme resourcing, capacity testing and Estate Regeneration create the essential new homes we need?

Here we review the key outcomes of the meeting and what this means, in particular for local authorities and the future of council-housing.

It was proposed that local authorities undertaking Estate Regeneration and housing delivery should deploy a complex financial model and project management process, by applying the right skills and governance structures. An audit of the skills available should be undertaken early, recognising that gaps can be filled in a team by a combination of recruitment.

Estate Regeneration is a long-term undertaking that requires that clear objectives are set and understood, plus supported by residents, the wider community, all councillors and senior executives in a local authority. This will require a careful process of consultation and engagement based on good evidence and realistic offers.

Commercial development on the other hand, requires a different culture and approach to finance from local authority funding mechanisms. The right skills from specialist consultants can help to build and/or provide this.

Andy von Bradsky, Architectural Advisor, MHCLG and Chairman of The Housing Forum opened discussions, stating Homes England had been set up with new powers to direct resources to areas of high demand and be more proactive in the housing market, and whilst MHCLG recognised that the housing market is recovering from the 2007 recession, it is still below that peak.

Andy commented: “There were fewer SME house builders than in 2007, with the market dominated by a few large private house builders and although housing associations are taking one third of supply, they could be more susceptible to the housing market.

“Planning reform is still on the Government’s agenda and there are a range of responses to its consultations, with over 1000 on the NPPF. The revised NPPF will be published before summer recess, stating councils will have new powers to deliver Garden Towns and Villages, which can be significant programmes such as Essex and Colchester who are planning 24,000 new home with local led development corporations.”

Other examples include the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) new ‘Building Council Homes for Londoners’, programme which is designed to offer a range of support and more flexible finance arrangements for each council that takes account of its skills and needs.

Rachael Hickman, Senior Area Manager for North East London at the GLA commented: “The GLA’s new funding programme ‘Building Council Homes for Londoners’ will support all London councils with the aim of building 10,000 new affordable homes by March 2022.

“It will be delivered through ambitious strategic partnerships between councils and the GLA, with flexible and tailored support from a menu of potential options. While reform of central Government rules is necessary to support the scale of new council homebuilding that London ultimately needs, the Mayor wants to work with councils to use existing powers and resources to their fullest extent.

“The GLA will work with Future of London to develop a dedicated forum to share best practice, review high-level technical content, and undertake site visits and offer bespoke research to assist councils to build more homes.

“Under the Programme Approach, councils will commit to delivering a headline number of affordable homes (a minimum of 100) broken down by tenure across a portfolio of sites in exchange for an allocation of affordable housing grant. Councils will have flexibility to manage the delivery profile of homes across this portfolio and additional discretion to substitute sites in and out of their portfolio.”

Other housing delivery initiatives were presented, together with discussions on how to further enable Estate Regeneration and do we have adequate resources to facilitate this.

Full details on the outcomes from the meetings can be found on The Housing Forum website.

Find out more: http://www.housingforum.org.uk/our-events/development-partnership-forum/development-partnership-forum