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The massive new housing development set to bring 500 new homes to the city

The council is set to give itself permission to build almost 500 homes on an important piece of green land in the city.

Coventry City Council identified a 42-acre site at Browns Lane in Coundon to build 475 homes on as part of its Local Plan – a document which sets out where regeneration can take place in the city in the future.

It says the move will support vital housing growth in the city, and ensure that local people have an appropriate choice of housing as 25 per cent of the homes will be affordable.

As the council plans to sell off the site to a developer, this would also give the authority extra cash to put into its coffers for future financial years.

But Cllr Gary Ridley – leader of the Conservative opposition – says the site is partly within the Coundon Wedge, an attractive stretch of countryside on the north-western outskirts of Coventry.

Green belt row

Cllr Ridley said: “John Mutton, when he became leader back in 2010, said ‘We’re not going to build on any greenbelt’.

“We’ve had this pledge from the Labour party time and time again.

“This council is planning a load of homes on this site which will then make money for the council. This is the decision they are making, and they are going to make a fortune despite their promises to residents.”

But leader of the council George Duggins hit back, saying the Browns Lane site had not been greenbelt since around 2001.

The land was originally reserved in part for the expansion of the Jaguar car works.

He said: “This particular proposal was contained in the Local Plan which was adopted by the council on December 15 last year.

“This is not something which has been dreamt up. This has been identified within the Local Plan, this has been consulted on widely and has also been subjected to extensive scrutiny from inspectors.

“I don’t believe that we are going back on anything we have said.

“What we are interested in is providing homes for people in Coventy.

“This piece of land was put out of the greenbelt some years ago, going back to around 2001.”

The plans

The council owns the 42-acre site at Browns Lane.

The Cabinet is being asked to approve necessary studies on the land and give permission for an outline planning application to be submitted.

If that is granted, the council will market the site and try to sell it on to a developer.

But the authority has “anticipated” that it will be able to develop the site independently if necessary.

Members of the Cabinet are also being asked for permission for the council to begin entering into negotiations with adjoining land owners to allow a more comprehensive development.

This would see the development spread over 45 acres instead of 42.

The authority is also making contingency plans to go ahead with developing its own land if an agreement cannot be reached.

An outline planning application detailing the number of homes and the layout of the site is expected to be submitted sometime next year.

The new homes would be integrated into existing communities and infrastructure.

Source: Coventry Telegraph

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Khan announces £1bn plan to build 11,000 new council homes in London

The mayor of London has announced a £1bn scheme for 26 London boroughs to build an extra 11,000 council homes at social rent levels, plus a further 3,750 other homes in a bid to tackle the housing crisis.

Sadiq Khan announced that under the new ‘Building Council Homes for Londoners’ programme, the first-ever city hall programme dedicated to council homebuilding, councils will increase their buildings rates by five times over the next four years.

The scheme was first launched in May, promising 10,000 new houses in London, but due to “big uptake” and “overwhelming interest” from boroughs, Khan has now announced that an additional 11,154 houses will be built over the next four years.

The largest sum secured was £107m by Newham Borough Council, followed by Ealing’s £99m, with both planning to build over 1,000 properties.

Khan said: “London’s housing crisis is hugely complex and has been decades in the making. There is no simple fix – but council housing is the most important part of the solution.

“Londoners need more council homes that they can genuinely afford, and local authorities have a fundamental role to play in getting London building the homes we need for the future.”

Khan welcomed the prime minister’s recent announcement that councils will be able to borrow more money to build houses, but said that lifting the borrowing cap alone wouldn’t fix the housing crisis alone.

He said: “Today, City Hall is using money we secured from government to help councils go much further.

“But let me be clear: lifting the borrowing cap for councils must be just the first step of reform, not the last.”

He said that the money currently received from the government for new social and affordable homes needed to be quadrupled to help tackle the problem.

The mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz, said: “I am very happy our bid for £107m of funding from the Mayor of London has been successful.

“This funding will kick-start our ambitious housing programme, which will see the construction of more than 1,000 quality homes across 40 sites in Newham started by 2022, and available at London Affordable Rent.”

He continued: “Newham residents are at the forefront of the housing crisis. Too many families are desperately in need of a sustainable home they can genuinely afford.

“Only through a massive council housebuilding programme can we begin to address the scale of this challenge.”

Last month, Theresa May announced £2bn in funding for affordable housing to be assigned over the next 10 years.

Source: Public Sector Executive

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New homes ombudsman will provide a helping hand for homeowners

Prompted by shoddy new build houses, the government is to appoint a new homes ombudsman.

A new homes ombudsman will be launched to help homebuyers who face problems with their newly built houses. The new body, announced at last week’s Conservative party conference, will champion the rights of homebuyers and hold developers to account when things go wrong with new builds. This statement has attracted a little controversy, given that an ombudsman is supposed to be impartial. New legislation will require all new developers to belong to an ombudsman scheme, with more detailed proposals to be published in due course.

Nobody likes their new-build house

The problem of people with new-build houses being dissatisfied with the quality of their property is a significant one. In 2017, more than half of the buyers of new houses experienced major problems with their residence, according to a survey carried out by housing charity Shelter. In June this year an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) concluded that house builders “were too frequently handing over poor-quality homes because they could get away with doing so”. It called for the appointment of an ombudsman to provide people with a straightforward way of getting problems resolved quickly.

The current situation is a mess. Affected house buyers are not just exasperated by the existence of defects in their new house, but also by builders’ failure or refusal to put the defects right, said the APPG. Unfortunately, it is difficult for homeowners to find out what is covered by a warranty – “far less than consumers assume” – with people facing a confusing array of warranties, housebuilding codes and complaints procedures, each offering something slightly different.

Under today’s rules, it is up to your housebuilder to sort out defects during the first two years after completion. After that, warranties provide insurance cover for any failures to meet building regulations. This should last for ten years from the date you completed on the property. It is the house that is covered for ten years, rather than the person, so cover should be passed on to new owners when the house is sold.

Your builder or conveyancer should have confirmed with you whether your property has a warranty from the National House Building Council, Premier Guarantee or LABC Warranty, while you should also have been provided with a policy document and insurance certificate. During years three to ten, any warranty will only cover structural matters costing over £1,500 – minor defects are excluded.

What to do after a complaint

If you’ve complained to your builder, but you’re not happy with how your complaint was handled, you can ask to be referred to an independent dispute resolution service, says consumer group Which. You have three months from the date of your builder’s final response to your initial complaint in which to request a referral. Your home warranty body will then provide you with an application form and details of any evidence to submit. You will have to pay £100 to register your complaint. The maximum amount of money you can expect to be awarded is £15,000 including  a maximum £250 for “inconvenience”, but you can’t make a complaint based on inconvenience alone. You are entitled to refuse the award, but if you pursue further legal action, the court is likely to take the adjudicator’s decision into account.

Source: Money Week

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Plans for 200 new homes in Brighton go on show

Plans for more than 200 new homes in Whitehawk are due to go on show next week.

The 217 homes are to be built as part of the £120 million joint venture between Hyde Housing and Brighton and Hove City Council.

The joint venture, called Homes for Brighton and Hove, said: “Come and have your say on our proposal to build affordable homes in Whitehawk.

“We are holding a public exhibition to show our proposal to build homes on the land adjoining Brighton Racecourse in north Whitehawk.

“The exhibition will be held on Wednesday 10 October and Thursday 11 October from 4pm to 7.30pm at the Valley Social Centre, Whitehawk Way.”

The proposals include

  • 217 new Affordable Homes
  • 114 two-bedroom Apartments
  • 103 one-bedroom Apartments
  • 700 new opportunities for education, training and apprenticeships

Homes for Brighton and Hove said that the joint venture would mean 400 full-time construction jobs and that it would inject £350 million into the economy over the next five years.

Homes for Brighton and Hove said: “Our aim is to create 1,000 new homes for rent and sale, specifically for lower income, local working households in the city of Brighton and Hove.

“Brighton and Hove is a growing city with high housing prices, low incomes, an ageing population and a significant proportion of households with support needs.

“We want to create new developments entirely focused on affordable housing, with new homes available for rental and shared ownership.

“We pride ourselves on working with the community to ensure we deliver a scheme the local community can be proud of.

“Each home will have a private balcony or garden. Each home will have generous windows to gain maximum benefit from sea views and natural light. They will also face on to parking areas and the natural landscape.

“There will be lift access to all floors. There will be easy access to bin stores for convenient recycling.”

The homes would be well insulated to reduce the amount and cost of energy needed to heat them, keeping bills low.

And the jot venture promised environmentally friendly building materials which relate to the surrounding area and have minimal impact on the surrounding landscape.

The plans include realigning some paths and surfacing the “Elm Grove link path”.

Source: Brighton and Hove News

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Borrowing cap for councils lifted so they can build more homes

Speaking at the Conservative Party Conference, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the government will lift the borrowing cap on councils to allow them to build more homes.

The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) said this is a victory for bold thinking and common sense and will allow councils to build many more new homes.  But the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) said this is not the way to address the housing shortage and is “financially irresponsible and costly”.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, commented: “This is the most exciting, and potentially transformative, announcement on council housing for many years.

“It is something the house building sector and local authorities have been crying out for since the last economic downturn as a means by which to increase house building. Indeed, the only times the UK has built sufficient numbers of homes overall is when we’ve had a thriving council house building programme.

“Local authorities have a strong interest in delivering new affordable homes and many would have the appetite to directly fund this, but have been frustrated from doing so by an artificial cap on their ability to borrow against their assets to build homes.”

Shortage of inexpensive housing

Mark Littlewood from the IEA  is pleased the Prime Minister acknowledges the root cause of the housing crisis is the extreme under-supply of homes, however, he believes the proposal to lift the borrowing cap for local councils “will not do the job of getting renters onto the housing ladder.”

He said: “The UK already has one of the highest proportions of social housing in Europe – more so than France, Germany and Spain.

“There is no specific shortage of social housing, or private rented accommodation, or homes for first-time buyers, or housing of any other type, but an overall shortage of inexpensive housing across all tenures.

“The private sector could deliver the number of homes needed if it were given the opportunity to do so, through planning liberalisation and incentives to build.

“Permitting councils to borrow to do a similar job is likely to lead to less efficient outcomes, and is certain to lead to a higher debt burden, which taxpayers will have to pay for down the road.”

Could be good for SME builders

The FMB also thinks lifting the cap on local authority borrowing could expand the capacity of the private sector by providing more opportunities for SME builders.

Berry said: “The private sector will continue to take the lead in delivering new homes, and to ensure it can do so, we need to continue to lay the foundations for a diverse private sector in which new firms can more easily enter the market and small firms can more easily prosper and grow.”

Where are the construction workers?

However, a spanner in the works could be immigration rules post-Brexit. New homes of any sort will not get built if the industry doesn’t have the people to build them.

Berry concluded: “Recent announcements on post-Brexit immigration rules, if implemented as currently understood, will be a serious threat to our ability to deliver on the promise of this policy.

“The failure of the government so far to listen to the construction industry could unfortunately threaten the delivery of the government’s increasingly bold moves to solve the housing crisis.”

Source: Mortgage Finance Gazette

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UK construction growth at weakest level for six months

Britain’s construction sector suffered its weakest growth for six months in September as the “Brexit blot on the landscape” held back activity, according to a report.

The closely-watched Markit/CIPS UK Construction purchasing managers’ index (PMI) showed a weaker-than-expected reading of 52.1 in September down from 52.9 in August, with house building losing momentum.

A reading above 50 indicates growth, but economists had expected the reading to remain at 52.9 according to consensus figures from Pantheon Macroeconomics.

The weakest overall activity in six months shows that caution and Brexit concern remain roadblocks to strong growth.

Duncan Brock, CIPS

The report said the September data indicated the sector continues to be in a “downbeat mood”, with business optimism at its second lowest level since the beginning of 2013.

This comes despite the figures showing the biggest rise in new orders since December 2016.

“The Brexit blot on the landscape was still in evidence as housing activity slowed to a pre-April growth rate and clients hesitated to place orders,” said Duncan Brock, group director at the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS).

Civil engineering was the worst-performing sector, as activity declined at a faster rate.

A lack of new work to replace completed projects was blamed, after a summer uplift caused in large part by work delayed earlier in the year.

Mr Brock added: “This tale of feast and famine offers little in the way of reassurance and is more about holding on to stable growth than a sprint to the finish.

“The weakest overall activity in six months shows that caution and Brexit concern remain roadblocks to strong growth.”

The slower growth in house building comes as Nationwide Building Society also released data on Tuesday showing property prices edged up just 0.3% month-on-month in September.

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser at EY ITEM Club, said the weaker housing market could continue to act as a drag on construction.

“There is the risk that house building activity could be pressurised by extended lacklustre housing market activity and subdued prices amid challenging fundamentals,” he said.

The PMI survey of firms showed that optimism for the year ahead declined in September.

Construction companies cited political and investor concerns about Brexit as a factor in lower confidence.

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said this was supported by official data which has indicated a decline in new orders and housing starts in the second quarter.

“Accordingly, we doubt that the construction sector will make a positive contribution to GDP (gross domestic product) growth over the next few quarters,” he said.