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Homes England gives long-term hope to housing market

Home England has announced today (Apr 14) that it acquired £180m worth of housing sites in the last financial year, with the 19 sites having capacity for 5,000 new homes across the country.

The Government’s housing agency completed several of these major purchases in the lead up to the end of the financial year, which in the context of Covid-19, shows a positive long-term view of housing demand, with a strong pipeline of projects ready to support the recovery of the housebuilding sector.

Homes England is able to attain challenging or stalled sites due to its experience and resources, unlocking development opportunities for much-needed new homes on the market across the country.

Included in the new sites is the 37-hectare Panshanger Aerodrome in Welwyn Garden City, with the capacity for 815 homes. An expected 30% of these will be affordable housing and come with a new primary school, a community centre and self-build plots.

The site’s infrastructure will be delivered by Homes England before marketing to developers in parcels, making the delivery quicker and more efficient.

2.5 hectare of land in Digbeth has been acquired from Birmingham City Council, forming one of the largest development sites in the city centre, with total capacity for 1,000 new homes and 25,000 square metres of employment space.

Other sites include Brislington Meadows in Bristol, Burtree Garden Village in Darlington and land just south of Rugby, Warwickshire from the County Council expected to deliver over 900 homes.

Simon Dudley, interim Homes England Chair, said:

“It is testament to the hard work and dedication of colleagues and our partners that we’ve met such a strong year-end at this challenging and unprecedented time.

“I want to reassure the sector that Homes England is very much open for business and investing in a long-term pipeline of development opportunities to support market recovery.

“The need for new housing will remain a priority, so we will continue to do business with partners across the sector to create opportunities for future development and support the government’s housebuilding objectives.”

Source: PSE

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Plans for 90 new homes in Mold formally submitted

Plans to build 90 new homes in Mold have formally been submitted to Flintshire Council.

Gower Homes originally set out its intention to redevelop land off Ruthin Road on the outskirts of the town last August by holding a public consultation.

According to documents put forward to the local authority, the scheme would be delivered in partnership with Clwyd Alyn Housing Association and Cornerstone Flintshire.

It would consist of 40 per cent affordable housing, as well as public open space, landscaping and road improvements.

However, opposition was voiced by members of a local campaign group as the site at Plas Aney is currently allocated as green barrier land.

In a statement previously posted on the Protection of Green Barriers Action Group website, representatives said: “Letters have been delivered to a number of residents adjacent to the proposed development.

“This means that we must now act and co-ordinate our responses via the action committee so as to gain the greatest effect and ensure this development does not go ahead.

“The field is part of the Mold Town Council Future Plan and has been identified as green barrier.

“The council has gone to great expense to get expert advice from consultants, and there is the possibility of someone just riding roughshod over the top and ignoring the advice and wishes of the council and the residents.”

The number of houses outlined in the formal proposals is three more than originally set out by the Wrexham-based housing company.

The firm has acknowledged that the site is on green barrier land, but said the lack of available housing sites elsewhere in Flintshire meant the development could be justified.

They added that it would provide social and economic benefits for the area.

Comments are currently being invited on the application via the Flintshire Council website.

The authority is aiming to make a decision by mid-May, although timescales are currently impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

By Liam Randall

Source: Deeside

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The 21,000 homes set to completely transform Essex – here’s exactly where they will be built over the next 18 years

A major policy document formalising where more than 21,000 homes should be built in the next 18 years has been given the green light.

The final Inspector’s Report on the examination of the Chelmsford Local Plan received by Chelmsford City Council on Tuesday, 25 February, concludes that the plan is legally compliant and sound, subject to a number of changes which were the subject of public consultation last autumn.

This means the city council can now formally adopt the plan.

The local plan provides a long-term strategy that will ensure local needs for new homes, employment, shops, open space and supporting infrastructure, are met in a sustainable and appropriate manner. It has also been drawn up following significant consultation with local communities and other stakeholders.

The council has planned for a total of 21,893 new homes to be built between 2013 to 2036, in order to meet its housing commitments.

Housing completions between 2013 and 2017 have totalled 3,090, around 8,100 homes have been given planning permission and are set to be built and another 220 commitments are set to be given planning permission.

The majority of the remainder of the 10,400 homes have been allocated to three major growth areas.

The “Chelmsford urban area” has been earmarked for 3,400 new homes.

Development north of Chelmsford will be centred most notably in north east Chelmsford and Great Leighs as new garden communities comprising of 4,500 homes.

The council says that development here will help to bring forward the Chelmsford North-East Bypass and provide a secondary access into Broomfield Hospital.

This growth area around South Woodham Ferrers will accommodate around 1,130 homes.

Leader of Chelmsford City Council, Councillor Stephen Robinson, said: “We are delighted to receive the Inspector’s Report which concludes that the Local Plan will provide an appropriate basis for the planning of the council’s area.

“It now allows us to make arrangements to formally adopt the plan as council policy. We will use this plan to deliver more infrastructure to go with development, genuinely affordable housing and to ensure that it is really sustainable.”

By Piers Meyler

Source: Essex Live

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Housebuilding rates failing to meet government targets

The number of new build homes started and completed continues to fall below government targets, according to new figures published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The report suggests the new build dwellings figures should be regarded as a leading indicator of the overall housing supply.

New builds slow to start

Annual new build dwelling starts totalled 157,550 in the year to September 2019, a 7 per cent decrease compared to the year to September 2018. During the same period, completions totalled 177,980, an increase of 9 per cent compared with last year.

On a quarterly basis, new build dwelling starts in England were estimated at 39,510 (seasonally adjusted) in the latest quarter, a 2 per cent increase compared to the previous 3 months and an 11 per cent increase on a year earlier. Completions were estimated at 46,000 (seasonally adjusted), a 2 per cent increase from the previous quarter and 11 per cent higher than a year ago.

“The government has set a target of delivering a million homes in the next five years, yet today’s figures show that the construction industry is way off meeting those rates on current trends.”

Clive Docwra

Managing Director, McBains

Housing association completions down by 14%

Private enterprise new build dwelling starts (seasonally adjusted) in the September quarter 2019 are up by 3 per cent on the previous quarter, and completions are up by 5 per cent. Starts by housing associations are 4 per cent lower compared to the last quarter, and completions down by 14 per cent.

Clive Docwra, Managing Director of construction consulting and design agency McBains, commented:

“Annual new build starts in the year to September 2019 saw a decrease of 7 per cent on the previous year, and while completions totalled close to 178,000, we need to be building more than 200,000 homes each year to meet the government’s ambitions.

“The government needs to set out how it intends to boost housebuilding and increase the supply of new homes needed to tackle the housing crisis, such as freeing up more land to build and cutting red tape on planning.”

 

Article written by Ella Tansley

Source: Twin FM

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Number of new build homes started dips by 11%

The number of new build homes started across England fell by 11% in July to September 2019 compared with the same period a year earlier, Government figures show.

Some 39,510 new builds were started during the quarter, down from 44,480 between July and September 2018.

But the latest total was up 2% compared with the previous three months. Between April and June last year 38,860 new build homes were started, according to figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

The figures also showed that 46,000 new build homes were completed between July and September last year – 11% higher than the same period in 2018.

New home completions were also up by 2% compared with the previous quarter.

The number of new house builds was strongly affected by the economic downturn from the start of 2008, when there was a period of rapid decline to a trough in 2009.

From 2013 to 2018, starts and completions grew again gradually.

But the report said that more recently, while completions have continued to grow, there has been a slowdown in starts.

It added that there are relatively high rates of new build starts in local authorities stretching from west of the London commuter belt across the Midlands to East Anglia.

Areas with relatively high rates of completion include Dorset and south Derbyshire, the report said.

By Vicky Shaw

Source: Yahoo Finance UK

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House completions fall as Persimmon puts quality over quantity

Housebuilder Persimmon saw the number of homes it completed fall by four per cent in the last year, as the company attempts to improve the quality of its building work following a scathing report into its work practices.

Bosses were told that they were focusing too much on building as many houses as possible – but failing to ensure the homes were habitable for the long term.

The fall means full-year revenues hit £3.65 billion in the 12 months to December 31, down 2.4 per cent compared with a year earlier. The average selling price was just £137 more than a year ago, at £215,700, the company added.

Persimmon has sites in the Black Country, Shropshire and Staffordshire, and its West Midlands office at Broadlands, Wolverhampton.

Dave Jenkinson, chief executive, said: “Delivering the maximum benefit to our customers from our quality and service improvement initiatives will continue to be my top priority for 2020.

“I am pleased with the progress we have made in 2019 and there is more to do.

“Action taken to maintain our increased levels of work in progress investment, the increase in quality assurance and customer service resources, and our plans for the implementation of the recommendations of the recent independent review, will all add to our momentum.”

Published in December and led by Stephanie Barwise QC, the report found Persimmon did not properly install fire barriers in homes.

The company was criticised for a series of failures and accused of focusing on achieving a five-star rating from the Home Builders Federation (HBF), rather than building high-quality and safe homes.

Criteria

Persimmon is moving away from focusing on the HBF rating, which is based on customer reviews shortly after the house is completed, and is not “a measure of the true quality and safety of the build”.

Although Mr Jenkinson said: “While our plans for delivering a sustained improvement in quality go far beyond a focus on the criteria of the HBF customer satisfaction survey, our current rating, which is trending strongly ahead of the four star threshold, is tangible evidence of the improvement we are making.”

He added that more details and a fuller response to the independent report and an update on the UK housing market would follow in the next few months.

The company said: “Looking ahead to the 2020 spring season, Persimmon is in a strong market position. The group has a nationwide outlet network and a range of attractive house types available at affordable prices across the UK regions, supported by high quality land holdings and a conservative balance sheet.”

Persimmon also announced non-executive director Claire Thomas, who joined the board in August last year, has decided to quit.

She said: “I have valued being part of the Persimmon board and the experience it presented but it has also made clear to me my preference for working in a large-scale complex global business environment.

“In my time on the board I have seen clear and determined efforts to transform the business and I wish Persimmon the best in their ongoing efforts.”

By James Pugh

Source: Express And Star

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Plans for 10,000 new homes on show in West Sussex

Homes England has announced dates for nine exhibitions where members of the public can ask about plans to build 10,000 homes west of Ifield.
The plans, which have received a mixed reaction from the public and local councils, include five primary schools, two secondary schools, a western relief road and 35 per cent affordable housing.

The exhibitions will be held on:

Friday January 10 at the Gurjar Hindu Union, Apple Tree Centre, Ifield Avenue, from 3-8pm;
Saturday January 11 at Ghyll Manor, High Street, Rusper, from 10am-3pm;
Monday January 13 at Horsham Sports Club, Cricketfield Road, Horsham, from 3-8pm;
Tuesday January 14 at Ifield West Community Centre, 1A Dobbins Place, Crawley, from 4-8pm;
Wednesday January 15, The Hawth Theatre, Hawth Avenue, Crawley, from 10am-1pm and 3-8pm;
Thursday January 16 at Ghyll Manor, High Street, Rusper, Horsham, from 3-8pm;
Friday January 17 at Ifield West Community Centre, 1A Dobbins Place, Crawley, from 4-8pm;
Saturday January 18 at the Gurjar Hindu Union, Apple Tree Centre, Ifield Avenue, from 10am-3pm.

Community group Talk Ifield will be hosting an open meeting on Wednesday January 22 where people will be able to talk to councillors about the impact the development would have on the neighbourhood and the town.

It will be held at the Elim Church, The Mardens, Ifield, from 7-8.30pm.

“At our last Talk Ifield open forum back in September, we promised to hold a special open forum as soon as possible on Homes England’s controversial proposal to build 10,000 new homes to the west of Ifield over the coming few years.

“Our meeting on January 22 will therefore be a timely opportunity to hear directly from our local councillors and other community representatives about what Homes England’s plans will mean for us and our neighbourhood, and to start the discussion about how we should respond to them.”

Mark Sudan, chair of the Talk Ifield management committee

A petition opposing the plans has been signed by more than 2,000 people.

Written by Karen Dunn

Source: SpiritFM

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Plans submitted to build 148 new homes on outskirts of Gloucestershire town

Details of the next stage of the huge housing estate that is being built on the outskirts of Lydney were revealed by developers just ahead of the Festive break.

Crest Nicholson lodged a reserved matters planning application for 148 new homes to be built on ‘parcel four’ of the land between Highgrove Way and the A48 Lydney bypass.

The development has already been given outline planning permission, with the latest application seeking to put down definitive layouts and designs for the new homes.

The initial outline plans for 750 new homes on the site were eventually approved after a long battle with Forest of Dean District Council planners in 2015.

According to documents filed just before Christmas, it will be the third phase of the building scheme on the new estate.

The next tranche of houses will be built to the south east of phases one and two with the eastern boundary of the new builds to be the A48 itself.

According to the application, “parcel 4 includes residential development which has been informed by the physical constraint of the land…

It adds that it would see “… infrastructure including the road to be delivered to finish the main spine road and the need to deliver quality residential development of high density to meet the current market.”

Of the 148 new homes, 44 have been set aside as affordable homes, of which 29 would be designated for social housing.

Areas of public open space is also included within the plans as are a number of proposed drainage ponds.

A noise bund and newly-planted trees would shelter the site from noise of passing vehicles on the A48.

In total there would be 12 one bed dwellings, 27 two beds, 64 three beds and 33 four beds, all of which would be two storeys in height.

In total it would lead to more than 139,000 square feet of housing being built.

The consultation process on the latest plans began on Christmas Eve, December 24, and runs until Tuesday, January 14.

By James Young

Source: Punchline Gloucester

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Plans submitted to build 41 new homes on edge of small Gloucestershire village

Plans have been submitted to build 41 new homes on a field outside the small Gloucestershire village of Alderton.

The application made by Poole-based GVD Group to Tewkesbury Borough Council is for a “residential-led development on the eastern edge” of the village.

Within the 41 dwellings, 20 would be built as affordable homes and would lie just south of the B4077 Dibden Lane, the main road that connects the village from the east.

According to documents filed with the plans, the two hectare site is “situated on an area of rough grassland that rises gently” and forms part of the “eastern gateway approach into Alderton.”

It is flanked to the south and east by open countryside and to the north by agricultural fields while the western border flanks the existing village buildings.

The application is for outline planning permission so exact details of how the dwellings would be arranged has not been included in the initial designs.

According to the developer 21 of the dwellings will be proposed for ‘market’ sale, while 10 would be allotted for ‘social’ housing and a further 10 as ‘intermediate’ housing.

Alderton has a current population of around 750, a figure boosted by similarly-named gateway developments to the south and west of the village in the past 20 years.

The plans will now go forward to a period of public consultation that will conclude on the final day of 2019.

A decision on the outline plans is expected to be made in March 2020.

By James Young

Source: Punchline Gloucester

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UK construction sector shrinks again amid election uncertainty

The UK construction sector contracted for the seventh month running in November as new work fell sharply amid yet more political uncertainty, survey data has shown.

The poor performance of the sector led firms to lay off workers for the eighth month in a row, in the latest sign that Britain’s jobs boom is slowing.

The IHS Markit/Cips UK construction purchasing managers’ index came in at 45.3 in November, compared to 44.2 in October. A figure below 50 indicates contraction.

Economists had predicted a score of 44.5, meaning November’s figure beat expectations and was the slowest drop in overall construction for four months.

Nonetheless, the UK’s building sector showed no signs of escaping its recent recession ahead of the 12 December General Election.

Both Labour and the Conservatives have promised to ramp up spending on infrastructure should they win power, which could boost the construction sector.

Duncan Brock, group director at Cips – the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply – said: “Brexit uncertainty, an impending General Election and wet weather all combined to keep the construction sector firmly in its contraction hole last month.”

All three main areas of construction contracted in November. Civil engineering was the worst-performing category, followed by commercial building. There was a much slower decline in housing activity.

On top of the political uncertainty that has dragged on UK economic growth in 2019, respondents reported that a lack of new work to replace old contracts and the unusually wet weather weighed on the sector in November.

Tim Moore, economics associate director at data firm IHS Markit, said: “The forthcoming General Election continued to send a chill breeze across the sector.”

He added: “House-building has been the most resilient category of construction output in 2019. However, it remains a concern that overall volumes of residential building work have dropped in each month since June.”

By Harry Robertson

Source: City AM