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New affordable homes to be built on site of former Wigan scrap yard

Jigsaw Homes Group has had a planning application approved to build 49 high-quality affordable homes on the site of a former scrap yard on Pocket Nook Lane in Lowton.

The new development will comprise a mix of one-bedroom apartments, two-bedroom and three-bedroom houses, providing a much needed range of quality affordable accommodation for Lowton.

Jigsaw has committed to carrying out decontamination of the site as part of the development process, turning a derelict and contaminated piece of land into a place fit for habitation.

Funding has been secured from Homes England through its Shared Ownership and Affordable Housing Programme (SOAHP) 2016-21.

Garnet Fazackerley, Jigsaw Group’s operations director for development said: “We are delighted to receive planning permission to develop 49 affordable new homes on a former industrial brownfield site.

“Jigsaw Group is committed to tackling the housing crisis by building new homes for the people in our communities.

“We have plans to develop over 2,000 new homes by 2022 and developments like this one bring us one step closer to that goal.”

Work is due to begin this Autumn, with completion likely to be in 2021.

The new homes will be let and managed by Adactus Housing Association, part of the Jigsaw Group.

By Neil Hodgson

Source: The Business Desk

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Homes England delivers four year high of housing completions

From 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019 there were more houses being built and completed, including affordable homes, Homes England’s housing statistics have shown.

There were 45,692 housing starts, the highest level for nine years, and 40,289 housing completions delivered through Homes England programmes, excluding London, the highest for four years.

Some 30,563 or 67% of housing starts on site in 2018-19 were for affordable homes, up 10% year-on-year and the highest for five years.

Mark Dyason, managing director of the development finance specialist, Thistle Finance, said: “Based on this evidence, homes in England are finally starting to be built in earnest.

“For housing start levels to be the highest in nine years, despite the ever-present uncertainty of Brexit, shows there’s hope for the property market yet.

“So extreme is the supply deficit that developers are proceeding with projects as they feel hedged against the political headwinds. Crucially, homes are not just being built in greater numbers but are selling in greater numbers, with the increase in affordable housing especially welcome.

“Help to Buy is attracting growing criticism at present but it has without doubt had an impact on purchase levels in recent years. It helps that for experienced and financially strong developers there are opportunities aplenty and no shortage of finance options.

“While there is political stasis, the development finance market remains fluid and this is showing through in these strong numbers.”

Some 17,772 affordable homes started in 2018-19 were for affordable rent, an increase of 4% on the 17,159 started in 2017-18. A further 11,560 were for intermediate affordable housing schemes, including Shared Ownership and Rent to Buy, 24% more year-on-year.

The remaining 1,231 were for social rent, a decrease of 12% on the 1,406 started in 2017-18.

Of the affordable homes started in 2018-19, the highest delivering programmes were: Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme (SOAHP) with 89%, up from 71% in 2017-18, and the Affordable Homes Programme (AHP) with 4.6%, down from 21% in 2017-18.

Some 28,710 (71%) of housing completions in 2018-19 were for affordable homes, 11% more year-on-year and the highest for four years.

In addition, 18,895 affordable homes completed in 2018-19 were for affordable rent, 4% fewer than the year before. A further 8,854 were for intermediate affordable housing schemes, including Shared Ownership and Rent to Buy, an increase of 75% on the 5,069 completed in 2017-18.

The remaining 961 were for Social Rent, a 1% reduction on the 970 completed in 2017-18. Of the affordable homes completed in 2018-19, the highest delivering programmes were the SOAHP 2016-21 with 55% and the AHP 2015-18 with 39%.

Joseph Daniels, founder of modular developer Project Etopia, added: “Homes England are taking on the housing crisis with a sustained dose of horsepower.

“The nine-year high in its house building rate sends a clear signal that it has built up a head of steam, which is helping to propel the market and housing supply forward.

“Good progress in the past four years, with starts rising year-on-year, takes its building levels almost back to the high seen just after the financial crisis although there is still a long way to go to satisfy the existing deficit.

“All eyes are on this rebound, in the hope it marks the start of a concerted push to new levels of affordable home building in England, coinciding as it does with a renewed political focus on the housing crisis in recent years.

“Although the government’s overall pace of building remains roughly 10,000 homes off target, Homes England could make considerable inroads here and close this gap significantly over the next few years.”

By Michael Lloyd 

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Plans for council homes at former Dumbarton school approved

Plans to build 55 affordable new council homes on the site of the former primary school site in Dumbarton have been approved by councillors.

The 1.9-acre area has been empty since the former Aitkenbar Primary School was demolished in 2016, following its relocation to a purpose built shared campus nearby.

The new development will see the site transformed into mixed housing including 24 one-bedroom flats, two-, three- and four-bedroom semi-detached houses, two three-bedroom accessible bungalows and four-bedroom detached homes.

A tree-lined road will be formed through the centre of the site, from Howatshaws Road, and a new footpath will connect the site with the adjacent children’s play area and woodland path.

At a meeting of West Dunbartonshire Council’s planning committee yesterday, councillors were also told how new tenants in the homes would benefit from a community garden, which will have shrubs, a seating area, and community art designed in partnership with local schools and an artist.

Plans for council homes at former Dumbarton school approved Commercial Finance Network

Councillor Diane Docherty, vice chair of the planning committee, and convener of housing and communities, said: “I was really impressed with the plans for the new use of this site. It has been well thought out to ensure that this new development can fit in with the existing community and I’m sure it will bring a great deal of benefit to the surrounding area.

“The facilities on offer, including the Community Garden and its close proximity to schooling, is bound to make this site very popular when complete.

“We are committed to providing affordable and efficient new homes for our residents, and it is exciting to see how this development will take shape.”

Source: Scottish Construction Now

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Affordable homes to be built on site of former sports club

Work is under way to build 48 new affordable homes on the site of the former Barton Lane Sports and Recreation Club in Eccles, Salford, which had sat unoccupied since November 2016.

ForHousing is transforming the disused site at Barton Lane into 48 modern apartments for affordable rent, comprising 24 one-bedroom and 24 two-bedroom homes.

The landlord owns and manages 24,000 homes across the North West of England, in Fylde, Knowsley, Oldham and Salford, and provides housing management services on behalf of Cheshire West and Chester Council.

Mangrove Estates is the developer on the site with Watson Homes responsible for the build and Grays Architecture leading on the scheme design.

Nigel Sedman, group director of homes said: “It’s really good news that the Barton Lane development has started on site.

“It will provide greatly needed affordable homes for 120 people and takes our investment into new homes in Eccles to over £20m.”

He added: “At ForHousing we are committed to building high-quality homes, stronger neighbourhoods and working together with tenants to make more things possible for more people.

“In the North West we have developed over 900 new homes to date across a mix of tenures and will be building a further 540 by 2020.”

The Barton Lane development is part funded by a £1.68m grant from Homes England. It is earmarked for completion by Winter 2020.

By Neil Hodgson

Source: The Business Desk

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Labour hits out as ministers admit just 5% of new ‘affordable’ homes will be in cheapest category

Only five percent of new homes funded under a government scheme will be of the most affordable kind, it has been revealed.

Prime Minister Theresa May has previously pledged to build “new generation of social homes”, which are pegged to local incomes to keep them affordable.

However, responding to a parliamentary question from Labour, Housing Secretary James Brokenshire said: “The £9bn Affordable Homes Programme will deliver at least 250,000 homes by March 2022.

“At least 12,500 of these will be for social rent outside of London. The Greater London Authority has the flexibility to deliver social rent in London.”

The remaining 237,500 homes not set for social rent outside of London are likely to be at the more expensive “affordable” housing rent, which are available to let at 80 percent of their market value.

Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary condemned the revelation as “not good enough”.

Speaking to the Independent – which first reported on the figures – John Healey said: “There’s been a disastrous fall in the number of new genuinely affordable homes for social rent under the Conservatives.

We are now building over 30,000 fewer social rented homes a year than when I was Labour’s last housing minister in 2010.

“Ministers’ flawed definition of ‘affordable housing’ includes homes for sale at up to £450,000 and to let at 80 per cent of market rents, so it’s just not good enough for ministers to only commit a tiny fraction of the affordable homes budget to new social rented homes.”

Housing and homelessness charities also made their concerns public.

Crisis chief executive Jon Sparkes told the Independent: “It is very disappointing to see such a tiny proportion of the properties to be delivered through the Affordable Homes Programme being made available for social rent.

“Research shows we need 90,000 social homes built every year for the next 15 years to meet demand – both for those experiencing homelessness, and for those on low incomes, many of whom are at risk of homelessness.”

But Housing Minister Kit Malthouse said governments “of all stripes” had built “too few homes of all types, including for affordable and social rent”.

He added: “We’re correcting this with massive investment in house building, including the £9bn affordable homes programme, but also by setting councils free to build the social homes their communities need.

“We expect many thousands of new homes to result and we share the impatience of the British people to see decent homes built for the next generation.”

Source: Politics Home

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Neil O’Brien MP: England’s rural housing crisis cannot be resolved by simply ‘building more homes’

Sunday at Conservative Party Conference saw Conservative MP Neil O’Brien joined by a panel of experts to debate the best way to bring affordable homes back to rural England.

It’s difficult to live in London and not be confronted by the sharp end of what the housing crisis means for some people. Rough sleeping is up by 169% since 2010, 15% in the past year. However, the crisis is not just an urban phenomenon with rural England facing its own unique set of challenges characterised by high house prices, lower wages, plus the seasonal nature of both the rental and job market.

Building affordable and quality homes in rural England was the topic of the CPRE and National Housing Federation fringe event on Sunday evening. Chaired by the Editor of Inside Housing Emma Maier, the panel consisted of Neil O’Brien MP for Harborough, John Lefever of Hastoe Housing Association, and CPRE’s Director of Campaigns Tom Fyans.

“The media images are dominated by rough sleeping in cities, but despite the fact that the rural housing crisis does not quite fit that picture it is no less devastating for those people who are affected by it. Nearly 1 in 5 people across the UK live in rural communities, so it is an issue that we should be talking about a great deal more than we are,” remarked Ms Maier.

Neil O’Brien MP says that for too long the housing debate has been dominated by false choices and endless bogus arguments.

“The quality of our housing debate is rather lopsided in this country.”

The MP said the debate needs to refocus on tackling the root causes of limited supply, such as local opposition to development and lack of infrastructure and have a concerted push towards increasing ownership occupation and strategic developments with well-designed infrastructure.

“Every year in this decade the private sector built about 165,000 houses, but owner occupation still went down because the private rental sector has expanded by 195,000 houses every year. The growth in the private rental sector, driven by buy-to-let and the like, outpaced the building. Even if we do build an additional 30,000 houses a year we won’t see a big enough upturn in owner occupation to see a reverse in that fall in the last decade unless we change the private rental sector.”

Ms Maier pointed to the fact that there has been a 30% increase in second homes between 2000-2014, up to 5.2 million.

“If you think about the scale of the number of homes we are hoping to build, 5.2 million is quite a figure for us to be thinking about. It is of little surprise that in some places the market has deviated to serve the second and holiday home owners. The retirees who may be wealthier than those in work or those who are searching for work.”

To combat this issue the MP for Harborough said giving people tax incentives for investing in other things outside of bricks and mortar – such as to move away from Buy-to-Let or for making investments in stock and shares – can make a difference.

The audience heard how the current crisis has been driven by the fact that in many communities, the market for housing has become divorced from local people and local incomes.

Tom Fyans said by definition, only 8% of rural housing stock is classified as “affordable”. He was concerned that the current definition of affordability which is based on market value does not take into account rural salaries, which are typically lower than in urban areas. To tackle this, Fyans said there may be a need for a look at a “rural living rent rate” or getting rental values more linked to local earnings, calling for a new definition that is linked to income and not to market.

The panel agreed that affordability is also impacted by how land value is captured.

“A piece of land that goes from being a piece of agricultural fields to being given permission for residential development becomes worth about 100x more. The great majority of the value of that is captured by the developer or the land speculator,” said O’Brien.

He continued saying that often times the land speculator just sits on the land, gets the planning permission, captures the uplift in value and doesn’t build.

CPRE’s Tom Fyans also hit on this issue saying: “The land’s value increased 120 times once given planning permission. Who gives that value? The land owner doesn’t give any value to that land, it is the community – all its services and infrastructure – that makes the land valuable. At the moment the vast majority of that value is given to the land owner.

“If you are selling the land at 120 times it’s real value, how are you actually going to resolve the rural housing crisis?”

Fyans emphasised that the land developers are not technically at fault as they are “building within the system”, a system that he claims, does not allow for you to assemble that land at the kind of rate that you can build affordable homes on.

“Because of that, you get the market that you see around the country – developments not created for local need which is the key driver.”

He called upon Government to look at home value and reform the 1961 Land Compensation Act.

“We’ve done it before, we can do it again. It used to be that 100% of the value was captured, but that has changed over the past 70 years.”

Beyond the affordability issue, the panel recognised that there is also a resistance in some places to development.

To overcome local opposition, O’Brien said we need to put a stop to “piecemeal unplanned development.”

He called for a move away from the “classic model” of development in rural communities, which entails tacking housing developments onto villages without providing new infrastructure to support them. The MP said this model leads to the village or town resources gradually getting overwhelmed and with important expansions of roads and schools being prevented due to them being “surrounded” by new housing.

“Basically villages that are designed to be small become overloaded.

“We need to get back into the business of planned development, where you can have proper planning for infrastructure, proper transport, and you get away from this “just tacking on” that drives people crazy.

“If you wanted to maximise the opposition to new development in this country, you would have a system that looks a lot like the one we have got.”

The MP said it was important to capture more of the value of the development for the community, a potential figure of £9 billion a year, that can be invested in new infrastructure, parking spaces, landscaping, quality house building and the socio-economic infrastructure.

John Lefever, Land and New Business Manager, from Hastoe Housing Association – the largest rural housing association in the UK – said it is important to have a “community connection.”

“We believe in rural housing, and we believe if it is done well, we don’t just tack it on…”

He said it was absolutely essential that housing is built to only address “local housing need. ” The benefits of focusing on local need is that it is not market lead, which means if the market dips, they keep building.  He remarked that the government needs consistency in delivery and housing associations like his deliver that.

Source: Politics Home

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Britain could end homelessness in a decade, claims new report

Homelessness in Britain could be eradicated within 10 years with the correct measures in place, according to a report.

Government policies needed to end homelessness have been set out in a report by charity Crisis called Everybody In: How To End Homelessness In Great Britain.

The plan has been endorsed by experts in the US, Canada and Finland, who are leading successful movements to end homelessness in their countries, Crisis said.

The report follows work with the Chartered Institute of Housing, Heriot-Watt University, the National Housing Federation, and PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC).

The plan says that a national roll-out of Housing First would benefit more than 18,000 homeless people, by providing homes that come with a package of specialised support.

The plan also sets out the policies needed to support people once they are housed, including better rights and longer tenancies for private renters, and reforming housing benefits.

Ending homelessness will also require hospitals, prisons, the care system, and other parts of the state to play a role, the research finds.

Crisis said these organisations should be legally required to help prevent people leaving their care from becoming homeless.

The plan also proposes that job centres have homelessness specialists.

PwC found that, over the next decade, these policies would cost £9.9 billion and deliver benefits worth £26.4 billion, Crisis said.

Jon Sparkes, chief executive of Crisis, said: “For the first time ever, we have a comprehensive plan that shows exactly how we can address the root causes of homelessness and make it a thing of the past.

“Other parts of the world are taking huge strides towards ending it, and Britain can too.

“We must not become a society that simply accepts homelessness as ‘a sad fact of life’, because the good news is that we know it doesn’t have to be this way.”

This includes people living on the streets, in cars and tents, or in unsuitable temporary accommodation.

Martin Tett, the Local Government Association’s Housing spokesman, said: “It is essential that all councils are able to borrow to build new homes and adapt welfare reforms to prevent homelessness from happening in the first place.

“A genuine renaissance in council housebuilding would increase housing supply, boost home ownership and reduce homelessness.”

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said it was committed to tackling homelessness and rough sleeping, working with charities like Crisis.

“We are investing more than £1.2 billion to tackle all forms of homelessness and just last week we announced £30 million for councils to help boost the immediate support available to people living on the streets.

“We are also investing £9 billion to build more affordable homes and are piloting the Housing First approach in three major regions to get people off the streets and into stable accommodation.”

Source: Herald Scotland

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£14m housing boost for North Ayrshire Council

MORE than £14 million has been allocated to North Ayrshire Council to build new homes following a request from Kenneth Gibson MSP.

The Scottish Government awarded £14.165 million to the authority for Resource Planning Assumptions (RPA) after the Cunninghame North MSP submitted a question.

The money will fund a range of affordable housing options, including 158 new council houses this year. RPAs provide councils with the financial certainty they need to implement plans to meet their housing priorities.

Over the next three years, 701 new council houses will be completed in North Ayrshire. To help deliver this, the Scottish Government will allocate a further £15.003 million in 2019/20 and £16.007 million in 2020/21.

Since the Scottish Government’s Council House Build Programme began in April 2009, with the aim of incentivising local authorities to build new homes, 244 new council houses have already been built in North Ayrshire.

This follows investment of £16.025 million from the government, an average grant of £65,676 per house.

Kenneth Gibson MSP said: “Everyone deserves to live in a modern, safe, warm, comfortable and affordable home. That principal is central to the SNP Government’s drive to make this country fairer and more prosperous; creating and sustaining jobs here in North Ayrshire and throughout Scotland.

“Prior to the SNP coming to office, council housing had long been neglected. Between 2003 and 2007, the Labour/Lib Dem Coalition built only six council houses in Scotland. All in Shetland!

“By comparison, across Scotland, the SNP Government met its target of building 30,000 affordable homes by 2016 early, in October 2015.”

Source: Ardrossan Herald

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New Black Country housing estate could be built on derelict industrial land

The 13-acre site off Darkhouse Lane, near Rosewood Primary School, will be turned into a new housing estate.

Around 142 properties would be built comprising of 30 one bed flats, six two bed flats, 51 two bed houses, 45 three bed houses and 10 four bed houses.

Plans are set to be approved subject to a Section 106 agreement at a Dudley Council meeting next week.

Affordable housing

Planning documents state: “The site is predominantly brownfield, being occupied by vacant, derelict and dilapidated industrial buildings.

“The development would also include open space and ancillary works to provide a buffer to adjacent industrial/railway uses.

“The application is made on behalf of Accord housing association and it is proposed that the entire scheme would be for affordable housing.”

Dudley Council leader Patrick Harley said if the scheme went ahead it would be ‘a boost’ to the local area.

“I welcome any investment in the borough as the council has been through hard times in recent years. We need to create our own new revenue streams and we can do that by building more houses and collecting more business rates.

“If there is an opportunity for commercial properties that would be great, and homes are good as well. I think this will provide a boost to the local economy in Coseley.”

Anti-social behaviour

A design and planning statement submitted as part of the application states: “Despite the site being allocated as employment land it must be noted the site has remained vacant for some time now and is subject to anti-social behaviour problems during the evenings.

“It is understood Dudley Council have expressed a willingness to consider the site’s potential for residential development.

“The design of any proposed residential development must be orientated to address the site constraints highlighted.

“The railway line to the west and coal manufacturing plant to the north have been identified as major potential noise sources.

“And early noise assessments suggest a minimum 60-metre offset of built form from these boundaries.

“This will achieve a substantial amount of public open space that will benefit any residential development and also provides sufficient space for the incorporation of a sympathetic noise mitigation feature.”

A previous application in 2013, from Darkhouse Properties (Jersey) Ltd, for 108 properties, was approved, but no development took place.

Source: Express and Star

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Scotland ‘building more affordable homes than England’

Scotland is building more affordable homes per head of population than England despite predictions that Holyrood ministers will miss their own ambitious target for new housing.

The Scottish Government’s supply of affordable housing per capita was found to be 33 per cent higher than the UK government’s supply in England over a 10 year period from 2007.

In answer to a parliamentary question from Edinburgh North and Leith MSP Ben Macpherson, housing minister Kevin Stewart revealed that 70,861 affordable homes had been built from April 2007 to September 2017.

In 2016, Scottish ministers pledged £3 billion to build 50,000 affordable homes, 35,000 of which are destined for the social rented sector.

But the number of affordable homes completed per quarter since the middle of 2016 has averaged at just 1,808, well below the 2,673 needed to reach the 50,000 target by 2021.

The gap in completions for social rent is even wider, with an increase in the completion rate of 159 per cent needed to meet the target.

But Mr Macpherson said the per capita figure demonstrated Scotland’s “strong position” when it came to building new homes.

“This demonstrates the stark difference between the SNP and the Tories, who have let housebuilding drop to its lowest level in England since 1923, whilst cutting winter fuel payments for the elderly and lumping the Bedroom Tax on the vulnerable,” he said.

“Since coming to office, the SNP has built more than 70,000 affordable homes and will continue to increase affordable housing with our ambitious target to deliver 50,000 homes during the lifetime of this Parliament, backed by £3 billion of investment.

“Making sure everyone has a safe, warm and affordable home is central to the SNP Government’s drive for a fairer and more prosperous Scotland.”

Source: Scotsman