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Councils already six years behind house building targets

Councils have fallen more than six years behind their own house-building targets, spelling disaster for Britain’s bid to end the housing crisis, modular smart homes provider Project Etopia has found.

Development across the country is moving at such a glacial pace, local authorities are on average 6.2 years behind the rate of building needed to hit targets identified as part of the government’s 10-year plan ending in 2026.

Joseph Daniels, chief executive of Project Etopia, said: “It is alarming to see so many areas so far behind already. If the pace is not rapidly picked up, we will be in an even deeper black hole in 10 years’ time than we are in now.

“Housing need is plain for all to see but not enough is being done about it. There is an air of complacency — everyone knows we need to build more houses and fast, but not enough decisive action is being taken to ease the crisis.

“Fresh ideas are vitally needed, and the most innovative and forward-thinking councils will have to include modern modular housing in their armoury. They can be built quickly, more economically, and still provide the standard of living people expect when they move into a new-build.

“The deficit is only going to grow unless councils think outside the box, and look for faster ways to build homes but retain quality — and modular housing offers this.”

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government jointly set out annual housing targets with local authorities up to 2026 and published these in September 20171.

However, building in 316 locations identified by the study is set to fall short of housing need by 889,803 homes over the decade.

Some of these areas (75) are keeping pace with housing requirements but just one year in, 241 locations are already in deficit, leaving them 9.2 years behind target on average.

If those councils not building fast enough do not speed up, they will miss their targets to the tune of 1.01 million homes by 2026.

Of the 10 councils which have fallen the furthest behind, it would take until between 2042 and 2060 for all the homes required by 2026 to be built.

Figures show Southend-on-Sea is by far the worst town or city outside London for meeting its targets, and is set to be 8,405 homes short of what it needs by the end of 2026 — if it does not speed up, it will take 34 more years to build that amount of housing stock.

York and Luton are the only other towns and cities that are more than 20 years behind — and all 10 councils with the biggest deficits are two decades off the pace on average.

The Project Etopia study found even councils with fewer homes to build, such as Gosport, Hants, which only needs to build 238 a year, have been struggling to meet their own targets. Gosport is 17 years behind.

Councils have for years been prevented from building new housing stock themselves, leaving them at the mercy of developers whose building can be hampered by economic and planning constraints.

However, the Prime Minister announced at the Conservative Party Conference that the borrowing cap would be lifted to encourage local authorities to commission new developments.

Preston, Lancs, was ahead of housing need by the biggest margin, with Scarborough, North Yorks, and Burnley, Lancs, close behind.

In London, the situation is even worse. Redbridge is in the worst shape in the country — 82.5 years behind its housing need.

Boroughs are 19.2 years behind on average, and those that are in deficit lag their house building targets by 21.4 years. Come 2026, London boroughs are on target to have a shortfall of 429,973 homes.

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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£50m funding paves way for 1,400 homes

A Worcester-headquartered social housing provider is set to build 1,400 homes across the region in the next two years after securing a £50m funding package from Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking.

Fortis Living will build a range of affordable homes in Evesham, Redditch and Worcester featuring one to four-bedroom houses, flats and bungalows.

The company, which also has an office in Malvern, has built more than 16,000 properties across Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Warwickshire.

Ben Colyer, head of corporate finance and treasury at Fortis Living, said: “This new investment will help us support our current and future residents by meeting the increased demand for housing, particularly in more rural areas where there’s a shortage of newer, affordable houses for local people.

“This is our first time working with Lloyds Bank and the support and expertise its social housing team has provided has enabled us to secure a tailored funding package that’s exactly suited to our needs.”

Jatinder Dhaliwal, relationship director at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, said: “Organisations like Fortis Living are doing a fantastic job of helping more people get on the property ladder and tackling increased housing pressures across the Midlands.

“As one of the UK’s leading lenders to the sector, we’re proud to be helping housing associations play their crucial role in providing high-quality, affordable homes across the UK. Our support forms part of our commitment to helping Britain prosper.”

Source: Insider Media

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Shropshire Council plans to build and sell houses in bid to plug financial hole

Shropshire Council is planning to build and sell houses to make money as part of its efforts to tackle a financial black hole.

The council is suggesting the measure as one way of dealing with its financial deficit and says that the purchase of Shrewsbury’s shopping centres will also provide an income of £2.7 million in the next financial year.

Other projects the authority hope will raise money include the redevelopment of Shirehall as a ‘public sector hub’, the development of health centres and community hubs, and buying and developing commercial property.

The council also wants to sell its services to external clients, and look at new services it could provide.

These include a new library services initiative called “Fab Reads”, charging for the time of building control team staff, and fees for tree preservation orders.

The proposals will be discussed at Thursday’s Audit Committee meeting.

The move to build and sell houses has been welcomed by the council’s Labour leader Alan Mosley, who described the plan as a “far better” investment than the shopping centres.

He said: “It’s good to see that they’re looking at investing in housing, particularly the rental section, which would be a far better investment than the shopping centres in terms of social value.”

But he criticised proposals to sell some of the council’s services as a risk.

“Shropshire Council is desperate to try and fill the massive black hole in its finances and seeking additional income for services is one way,” Councillor Mosley added.

“However, as has been acknowledged in the financial strategy, there are massive risks in relying on income to fund future service needs.

“This is no way in which councils should be financing the provision of vital and critical resources for residents.”

The council’s commercial strategy, approved by cabinet in March 2017, intends to invest in schemes and projects which can deliver £10m to £15m of new revenue income over a period of five to 10 years with returns of investment exceeding 10 per cent.

A spokeswoman for Shropshire Council said: “As government funding dwindles, choosing where to make savings is getting more and more difficult, especially as demand on the services we provide for our most vulnerable residents increases.

“Our financial strategy sets out a number of savings we propose to make over the next five years in order to balance our (revenue) budget.

“A key part of this is raising income.

“We are continuing to review all of the services we deliver (over 150, across the county) to explore whether they can sell their existing services to external clients and identify any new ones they can provide.”

Source: Shropshire Star