Archives for posts with tag: Affordable housing

Its message: the greatest need is for affordable rented housing in urban areas. Any solution to Britain’s housing crisis must include a bigger contribution from the public sector. Rather than coercive measures, the focus should be on enabling local authorities and housing associations that wish to build social housing.

Shame is poured on George Osborne’s ‘massive’ reduction of Housing Associations’ capability to invest in new housing with a 1% rent reduction per annum for 5 years: “Social housing rents are already at a large discount to private landlord rents, so this ill-advised move in one go, reduced the capital raising capability of Housing Associations”.

The FT thinks that local authorities should be allowed to:

  • set planning fees,
  • to levy taxes on idle land when developers fail to use planning permissions
  • and, crucially, to borrow in order to fund their own social housing developments.

There is a great deal that can still be done by making better use of brownfield sites and releasing public land for development. An annual tax should be levied on undeveloped land that has residential planning permission but has not been developed whether publicly-owned, or land owned privately, by companies, NGOs or agencies.

Mixed developments are being built, income from sales invested in social housing

At the end of March, Birmingham’s council newsletter reported on the completion of 251 ‘quality’ homes in Erdington. There is a mixture of social housing and houses for sale, for a range of family sizes – from one to five bedroom properties.  The income gained from houses sold from this latest development will be reinvested into the council’s housing stock of social housing. News of other social and affordable new housing in the city may be read here. Today we are reminded that a four year programme has been set up to enlist smaller housebuilders to use smaller plots of land.

Birmingham City Council won Social Housing Provider of the Year’ at the Insider Residential Property Awards in 2016. This highlighted the work of the Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust (BMHT, currently the largest provider of affordable homes per annum in the Midlands with projects in Nechells, Sutton Coldfield and Ladywood. In 2015, BMHT also won the Public Sector Award at the Urban Design Awards for its Newtown redevelopment (See architect Joe Holyoak’s article – one photo above.).

BMHT celebrated the completion of its 2,000 home milestone in March – a culmination of 1,125 homes built for rent and almost 900 built for sale since the council launched the BMHT programme.  The council plans to build around 1,800 further new homes for rent and market sale between now and 2020 in order to close the city’s housing gap.

 

The West Midlands New Economic Group’s blog gives a link to a useful summary of these five omissions and focusses on one question asked by MacFarlane*: “What about the housing crisis?”

The Chancellor failed to mention housing even once, despite the fact that we are in the grip of a serious and escalating housing crisis. One of the things fuelling that crisis is the fact that the government is insisting on selling off public land rather than using it to help deliver more genuinely affordable housing.

At the current rate, the new homes target on sold-off public land will not be met until 2032, 12 years laer than promised. And the majority of homes being built on the land sold are out of reach for most people — only one in five will be classified as ‘affordable’. Even this figure is optimistic as it uses the government’s own widely criticised definition of affordability. If the government ended the public land fire sale they could use that land to partner with local authorities, small developers and communities themselves to deliver the more affordable homes people need.

According to the latest Nationwide House Price statistics, as most people cannot afford to buy now even with a mortgage, cash buyers such as second homeowners and buy to let landlords are propping up the market. Things are getting worse for people left at the mercy of this failing market. The Chancellor could have put a stop to the fire sale of public land yesterday, but instead he acted as if there were no housing crisis all.

*

*Laurie MacFarlane is an economist whose work focuses on reforming the financial sector and the economy to align with long term interests of society. Before joining NEF he was Head of Analysis at the Water Industry Commission for Scotland, an economic regulator which ensures that water customers receive value for money and led a small team of economists undertaking economic and financial analysis and engaging with industry stakeholders. He also spent one year in the Markets and Economics division at Ofwat, where he worked on establishing the recent water company price determinations. He has worked closely with Common Weal, a progressive Scottish think tank which aims to promote a new vision for economic, social and cultural development in Scotland and has a particular interest in analysing the links between UK housing crisis, the finance system and inequality.

Read more here: http://action.neweconomics

 

 

 

A link was sent today by a Bournville reader and followed by Cllr John Clancy’s message: “I know we have to do more to deliver the houses our citizens desperately need and deserve. This is an absolute priority for me and the cabinet. We are already building at a scale unheard of for decades and delivering the housing this city needs.

wake-green-prefabsValued homes: Grade 2 listed Phoenix prefabs in Wake Green Road, Moseley

The reader’s link led to an article by Reuter’s  Astrid Zweynert. After a brief account of post-war prefab building, she writes: “Faced with a chronic, new housing shortage, Britain is once more embracing prefabrication as it struggles to meet its promise to build a million homes in England by 2020. In a major policy announcement last month, the government said it supported off-site construction, promised financial support for prefabs and to make public land available for “modular schemes”, as they are known now”.

An online search will reveal many expensive and stylish prefabricated houses and fewer low cost models – but such options do exist. Building Design highlighted three prefabricated solutions to the housing crisis in 2016.

urbansplas_prefab-660

The first design (above), by Urban Splash, was one of the new range of low-cost prefabricated housing solutions being ‘rolled out’ across the country with the potential to help tackle Britain’s affordable housing crisis.

 

 

 

birmingham council logo2The Birmingham Development Plan expresses the intention to build on brownfield sites – but will find it hard to get developers to do this.

It then says: “Having explored the capacity within the urban area it is clear that it will be impossible to provide sufficient new housing to meet the City’s growing population with a shortfall in the region of 30,000 dwellings . . . This means that we must also consider the potential for development on the edge of the City – which means on land currently in the Green Belt”.

The plan has been submitted to Planning Inspector, Roger Clews, in July but no public response has yet been recorded.

Nick Mathiason* records that the supply of affordable housing has gone into reverse:

“Government figures project 42,710 affordable homes will be built in England in the year to April – the lowest number since 2006 and a 26% fall since 2010”

boi logo smallerLast year research undertaken for the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that of 82 of the UK’s biggest housing developments in 10 major cities only 40% met local affordable housing targets.

Under Margaret Thatcher’s Right to Buy’ policy, approximately two million council homes were sold at a substantial discount and local authorities were banned from using the proceeds to replace them.

Further setbacks to the affordable housing sector were George Osborne’s 2010 Whitehall spending review 60% cut to the affordable housing grant and last year’s additional 2.2% reduction. The government also allowed housing associations to increase rents on their new build homes to 80% of market rents; in many areas, particularly in the south east, such ‘affordable’ rents are too high for ordinary people.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, the homeless campaign group, fears that low cost housing providers are in danger of forgetting their core mission.

Viability guidance

Kris Hopkins, the planning minister, thinks that viability guidance is not the reason for falling numbers of affordable homes. It is a question of how councils administer it.

‘Viability expert’ Christopher Marsh, explains: “There’s no question if you deflate value and inflate cost while adopting a typical profit margin, the effect will be, potentially, to reduce the amount of affordable housing delivered, especially if land value is fixed. That’s undoubtedly true and I have seen it very many times. If local authorities were sufficiently well equipped (with specialist training and experience) you could safely say the overall amount of affordable housing would be greater.”

In Birmingham, it is alleged that not one of the nine biggest schemes met the city’s 35% affordable housing target

In one planned 353-unit Birmingham project, even the allocation of 12 affordable homes – just 3.4% of the scheme – was considered “unviable” by planning advisers representing the developer.

Time for change – put the public good first and be content with reasonable profit.

*Nick Mathiason, who frequently writes articles exposing links between the governing hierarchy and wealthy donors, is business correspondent at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism and also works with the Task Force on Financial Integrity and Economic Development. He was previously Business Correspondent at the Guardian and Observer newspapers for 10 years.,

 

Cadbury Brothers moved their factory from Bridge Street in Birmingham to a country location, in order to improve the quality of life of their employees and other incomers. Families in the new town, Bournville, had houses with yards, gardens, and fresh air – improvements in living conditions which enhanced public health.

bournville js 1To this day, the town offers affordable housing. Figures published in 1915 show that the general death rate and infant mortality for Bournville was significantly lower than that for Birmingham as a whole, over a five-year period. Bournville Junior School (entrance left) was founded by factory owner George Cadbury in 1906 and built with pride, to provide high quality education which was forward looking and tolerant.

Training and employment opportunities multiplied as the factory site became a series of ‘factories within a factory’; everything needed for the business was produced on site. This policy continued until well after the second World War, when – deplored in hindsight – it was considered advisable to use specialised ‘outside’ suppliers.

dumfries  work in progress

In 2007, another philanthropist mobilised a consortium of charities and heritage bodies to buy Dumfries House near a former coal-mining town with 16% unemployment, which according to Strathclyde University, “suffers from social deprivation and widespread degradation of the built environment and associated infrastructure”.

dumfries traineeDumfries House is now employing and training many young people who come from families with three generations of unemployed. They usually progress from apprenticeships to full-time employment.

An engineering centre is being created to revive skills in an industry considered vital to the country, counteracting the prevailing view in education that engineering is dirty and manufacturing ‘dead and gone’.

An outdoors centre, a cookery school, mill, woodyard, cookshop, training allotments and vegetable patches for gardeners have been created – a comprehensive business, social and environmental approach designed to kick-start regeneration in impoverished East Ayrshire, where mining communities once flourished.

dumfries allotments