Over 160 leaders from across UK housing and government joined together to discuss and debate the housing crisis.
14 November 2018 more...
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Like the Government, PlaceShapers are committed to ending the housing crisis and are now assessing the likely impact of Wednesday's housing announcements by the prime Minister. Above all else we remain committed to our role to provide affordable homes and services that respond to local needs.
We share the Government’s commitment to offer home ownership opportunities to more people. After all, providing good quality housing that meets people's needs is a key part of what PlaceShapers are here to do. That and building strong communities and helping individuals raise and meet their aspirations. However there remains a very real requirement for social housing for those on very low and variable incomes where home ownership is not a reality in any circumstance.
We work alongside the NHF and engaged with them over the summer on matters relating to the extended Right to Buy. We did not consider it appropriate to recommend to our members whether or not they should vote in favour of the voluntary deal announced by the Prime Minister yesterday and fully respect the individual decisions made within our membership. Our understanding is that most supported the agreed way forward. Delivering the deal will be testing for many of our members and it was not a decision taken lightly but we have a track record of responding positively and making things happen: we will do the same now.
We hope that an alternative way of resourcing this can be found that does not involve the sale of council homes so that our LA partners are able to continue to provide for acute housing need alongside us.
We are also keen to ensure that sold social housing stock can be replaced on a like-for-like basis in the same location wherever possible and see this as one of the key challenges for the sector. Our members already provide a range of home-ownership products in response to local markets and we expect to work closely with the NHF in the coming months to influence implementation arrangements.
Meanwhile, our members continue to work through major changes to their Business Plans resulting from the unexpected requirement to reduce rents over the next four years.
Britain’s housing crisis can only be solved with a massive housebuilding programme. PlaceShapers are key providers with more than 90% of us actively developing and providing new homes. We have the development expertise and local relationships to unlock sites, to negotiate agreement with those who may initially oppose new homes and to ensure the necessary investment in the wider community. Our general approach is to try to avoid, when possible, scaling back the development of new homes of all tenure and much valued community services. A particular challenge arises with supported housing provision and we have called on the Government to exempt all such schemes from the rent cuts to ensure future provision.
With the government’s devolution of powers, we urge that S106 decisions should be made locally by the relevant Planning Authority as to the mix of home ownership and rented properties in their areas as this seems an issue best solved locally.
S106 agreements currently ensure provision of much needed affordable rented homes. S106 sites have delivered both home ownership and rented options that help meet the local housing needs identified by the local authority. Enabling developers to switch their contribution to home-ownership products, including starter homes will remove this supply. We fully understand and share the Government’s desire to extend opportunities for home-ownership but do not believe that this should be at the expense of those who also aspire to get on in life but are unable to afford to buy a home of their own. Like the government PlaceShapers value localism and we remain supportive of the role of the local authority in steering the type of housing delivered through section 106 sites.
We are very pleased that Greg Clark, Secretary of State, is joining our national member conference in early November and look forward to being able to discuss these matters and more with him then.
Picture from recent North Lincolnshire Homes community event.