I listened to the Minister of Housing recently saying we must build more affordable homes and social housing to respond to the number of families and individuals who
require accommodation, and penalise developers who do not build out sites they
have planning permission for. As we live in uncertain financial times, perhaps the
Minster needs to understand the economies of development as the cost of building a
percentage of Social Housing/Affordable Housing has to be paid for out of house
sales for the balance of the site.
That of course assumes the market is available for
houses to be sold.
Accepting that we have in place, throughout the country, planning approvals for
thousands of houses, principally as housing for sale, with a small percentage for
affordable/social housing, this will not address the problem, in a timely and cost-
Taking Horncastle for example - the town has over 800 houses with planning
approval, yet only one site has been started after 3/4 years, and the site will be built
out over 10 years, at circa 35 houses a year.
No provision was made for a 106 agreement, which was worse than dilatory, to help funding for medical, educational and other facilities.
The costs and timescales for building out green field sites is out of all proportion to the off-site costs that will inevitably be accrued.
This raises the question as to why do we not change the approach and consider improving unoccupied homes throughout the country.
Yes, it raises ownership issues, but Government needs to step in and push for this issue to be overcome so allowing a short time scale and cost-effective way of providing social housing and affordable homes.
There exists a mechanism of Housing Associations by county/region, who are capable of delivering upgraded houses to agreed government standards, with a management structure already in place.
It is a sad indictment that Government slashed grant funding around 2013 to many Housing Associations, removing the steady supply of affordable and social housing and part ownership. Let’s do it, not
talk about it.
Perhaps our local MP Victoria Atkins, should consider this argument as an immediate solution to addressing the housing problem at the non-profit end of the Market.
Richard Barker, RIBA