Accelerating high quality housing delivery
By Richard Green, Manchester
There is an ongoing, urgent need to speed up the delivery of high quality housing, in particular social housing in the UK.
This situation has been continuing for a number of years… we are still only building on average around 140,000 homes per year across the UK and despite recent developments and national government incentives the number is only increasing modestly, up to around 217,000 in 2016-17. In contrast the UK population is growing at 1% per annum, which is adding around 270,000 new households per year. We have an existing chronic shortage of housing, especially social housing in part as a result of decades of under investment. We therefore need to build at least 270,000 homes per year to keep track with population growth, or around 350,000 to reduce the current shortage of housing. This would mean building a city larger than Newcastle every year.
UK Government is increasingly seeing the matter as one of national importance…“We are … very conscious that we have not built enough homes in this country year on year for many decades … We have been very clear that we want to be very ambitious. We want to deliver homes across all tenures. We want to drive home ownership up as well. Working to deliver one million homes in this Parliament is a target we should be very ambitious about, and go beyond, if we can.” Brandon Lewis MP, Minister for Housing, 22 March 2016.
This issue was further emphasised in the Autumn Budget 2017 that reiterated…The government is determined to fix the broken housing market, and restore the dream of home ownership for a new generation… The cost of housing near the most productive centres of employment has become a barrier to productivity growth…The only sustainable way of making housing more affordable in the long term is to build more homes in the right places.
So what are the solutions? Everyone agrees that speed of delivery is more important than ever and in response two parallel programmes are presently being promoted by Government:
Surplus Public Sector Land and Manufactured Housing
Government is presently leading on progressing development on surplus/brownfield land through its national delivery agency the Homes and Communities Agency, soon to be re-named Homes England. Homes England is leading the Accelerated Construction Programme which is looking to provide a tailored package of support to Local Authorities who would like to develop out surplus land holdings at pace. The programme aims to deliver up to 15,000 homes (housing starts) on central and local surplus public sector land through £15.3 billion of new financial support for housing over the next five years. It also looks to use Accelerated Construction to tackle broader constraints to seeing more homes built. The industry is presently responding to this challenge through various modular and manufactured housing solutions that provide a greater level of flexibility, innovation and speed of delivery than traditional on site solutions.
Meanwhile, at a more regional level the One Public Estate (OPE) Partnerships across the country have shown the value of working together across the public sector and taking a strategic approach to asset management. The programme is about getting more from public assets through major service transformation and unlocking land for new homes and commercial space.
One such example of OPE working with Perfect Circle is presently commencing for Halton Borough Council where the team are providing a full suite of services to realise residential based regeneration and investment it two prime sites located in Widnes and Runcorn.
In all of these examples speed of delivery is more important than ever – Perfect Circle are pioneers in this context and can demonstrate through a number of high profile examples how the benefits of an efficient public/private sector partnership and associated robust/efficient procurement process is delivering high quality homes and respected places that are truly embraced by their respective communities.