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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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More new homes still needed across Nottinghamshire

The Housing Minister has said all areas of the country have to play a part in the Government’s ambition to build 300,000 new homes in the next few years.

Robert Jenrick, who is the minister for housing, communities and local government, said the Government was putting huge amounts of energy and resources into helping deliver the target.

It comes after it was revealed that Broxtowe and Gedling borough councils were missing ambitious house-building targets set by the Government, and may have stringent sanctions imposed on them if the rates don’t improve.

However both councils have given permission for more than enough houses to meet its target.

Both have now drawn up action plans for how to improve the rates of new homes being built.

Asked about the situation, Mr Jenrick – who is also the Conservative MP for Newark, said: “I’m aware of the difficulties both councils are facing, we are working closely with them to build additional homes, in the right places that can command the support of local residents.”

Mr Jenrick went on to talkabout the East Midlands Development Corporation, a high-level group of businesses, local authorities and financiers which is aiming to regenerate the around in Broxtowe around where the Toton HS2 station will be.

“My department is at the heart of the development corporation proposal for Toton.

“We’ve provided £2 million seed capital to bring the partners together for what I think is a very exciting economic development and housing proposition there.

“Both as someone who was at the heart of that idea when it was first conceived, and now as secretary of state, I’m absolutely committed to seeing that through.

“That will both bring thousands of high-quality jobs to Broxtowe and to the south of the city but also thousands of new homes as well.

“So in the long term making a success of Toton will help us meet our housing target in Broxtowe.

“But I do think every part of the country needs to play its part in terms of the homes built. We know the housing market is very difficult for young people and families and my mission as Secretary of State is to share the dream of home ownership with a next generation and to build very significantly more homes.

“I do believe public attitudes are changing, people understand that new homes need to be built, they see their grandchildren and children struggling to get on the housing ladder, and I want to ensure we build those homes and help people get on the housing ladder.”

Mr Jenrick was speaking during a visit to 21 newly-built homes on Perry Road, in Sherwood, Nottingham.

Rather than conventional building, developers Waters Homes used a pioneering technique known as structurally insulated panels to construct the main ‘bones’ of the house.

This involved dropping 14 large panels into place, and meant the houses could be built about twice as quickly as with traditional homes.

The front of the houses are then finished with brick for aesthetic reasons.

They are built on a former warehouse which had been derelict for several years.

The development was helped by Homes England, a government agency designed to speed up housebuilding.

They bought the original plot, then sold it to Waters Home with a £1 million loan to help get the project under way.

The scheme was so successful – with all the homes now being sold – that the loan was paid back in full eight months ahead of schedule.

Source: West Bridgford Wire

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£4M of funding set aside to build new homes in Dorset

  • West Dorset District Council has launched a new housing company.
  • Its been given £4M of funding from the council’s reserves.
  • The Local Authority Trading Company will acquire sites and fund development.
  • Its all aimed at tackling the housing shortage in Dorset.

Councillors have backed plans to help tackle housing shortages in West Dorset by building a mix of new homes.

These will include open market sale, shared ownership sale, open market rent and affordable/social for rent.

Members of West Dorset District Council’s strategy committee approved a recommendation to set up a Local Authority Trading Company with initial funding of £4m from council reserves.

This funding will be used to operate the business, acquire sites and fund development.

The move is part of the council’s Opening Doors campaign to meet housing need at a local level when faced with a lower number of active developers that can typically be found in larger urban areas.

It comes 25 years after the district council transferred its housing stock to the then West Dorset Housing Association in 1993.

That organisation has since become Magna Housing. The council recognises that local housing associations do a great service but the area still needs more housing provision with 1,572 people on the council’s Housing Register.

The new company will:

  • target areas of need that are not currently being served by the locally based developers 
  • Work with community land trusts to deliver smaller sites
  • Acquire new land as well as developing the council’s own
  • Acquire sites that have been granted planning consent for housing but not brought forward 
  • Work with other developers and housing associations where its involvement can unlock development that would otherwise have not taken place

Councillor Tim Yarker said: “We are determined to do everything in our power at a local level to tackle housing shortages.

“More good quality homes of all tenures are absolutely vital for the future of our communities and strength of our local economy.

“A Local Authority Trading Company will give us a degree of greater control over the tenure and location of housing developments whilst also offering significant potential to help ameliorate housing shortages.

“In addition to increasing the supply of housing locally, receipts from the sale of properties and rents would create revenue streams that in the longer term could be reinvested in further housing provision.”

Cllr Yarker added: “Opening Doors is about the council being proactive to tackle housing problems.

“We are one of a number of councils nationwide taking such an innovative approach and establishing a Local Authority Trading Company could be one of the most important steps we take.”

The council aims to develop the homes using local labour which could help create more jobs and a boost for the local economy.

Opening Doors aims to encourage the construction of a total of 20,000 good quality homes of all tenures by 2033 across the areas covered by West Dorset District Council, North Dorset District Council and West Dorset District Council.

The councils have also launched a Home Ownership Register to gauge need for different types of homes and in what areas, and feed information to prospective buyers.

Source: WessexFM

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Plans for 500 new homes at Connaught Barracks in Dover have taken a step forward

Plans to start building 500 new homes at Connaught Barracks in Dover have been boosted, with work expected to begin this year.

Connaught Barracks is a former Ministry of Defence site of 55 hectares acquired by the Homes and Community Agency, now known as Homes England, in 2008.

With a Land Trust owned Napoleonic fort Fort Burgoyne at its core, it is hoped the development will bring a flurry of homes for first time buyers and families to the district.

Work started on the demolition of the buildings in 2016, with outline planning permission obtained for the first 64 homes in July that year.

The demolition work was originally due for completion in spring 2017.

But unknown push-backs meant the demolition phase at the site off Dover Road has only just been completed, almost a year later.

Now, all the old buildings have been knocked down and Homes England has been approaching housing developers ahead of construction.

Bids were received for the first phase of the scheme – the Officers’ Mess – last month.

An artist’s impression

The preferred bidder is expected to be announced soon.

Dover and Deal MP Charlie Elphicke was shown around the site by bosses from Homes England on January 19.

He said: “There is so much potential for Connaught Barracks and I’m really excited about what can be achieved.

“I have urged Homes England to use the site to offer quality homes for first time buyers and families.

“I was pleased to see things are progressing. It’s vital the construction of the much needed homes now moves forward swiftly – and that we see work begin this year.

“The people of Dover have waited a long time for this project – now it’s time to deliver.”

Source: Kent Live

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UK housebuilders to prefabricate hundreds of homes in factories

One of Britain’s major housebuilders is to prefabricate up to a quarter of its homes in a factory, in the latest attempt by the construction industry to tackle the housing shortage.

Berkeley Homes, which builds 4,000 homes a year, is planning to create a facility in Kent next year where builders will work to produce up to 1,000 houses and apartments annually which will then be craned on to sites.

Another company, nHouse, is setting up a factory in Peterborough with the capacity to build 400 homes a year, complete with light fittings, bathrooms, bookshelves and kitchens. Production is expected to start in January.

It claims it can build a house in 20 days in the factory which can then be erected on site in half a day. Several other developers, including Legal and General and Urban Splash, have also launched prefab home divisions.

Fears of a shortage of skilled construction workers caused by an ageing workforce and an exodus due to Brexit are part of the reason for the revival of prefabrication, which last provided a significant number of homes after the second world war.

The government has set a target of building 300,000 homes a year by the middle of the next decade. Despite recent increases in activity, the last annual figure was 190,000.

A Berkeley spokesman said: “We have acquired a 10-acre brownfield site from the Homes and Communities Agency to build a factory for modular homes in Ebbsfleet, Kent. This will have the potential to deliver up to 1,000 homes a year.

“Construction of the factory could begin next year. While the speed of production and the impact on skills and labour are important factors, our real driver is the quality we can achieve with modular housing.”

The nHouse has been designed by the architect Richard Hywel Evans and is made in four modules from engineered pine panels which are transported on the backs of lorries and are then clipped together on site and connected to pre-existing services. Its built-in features include solar panels, a robot vacuum cleaner and even a drone landing pad – looking forward to a time of aerial deliveries.

A three-bed house is on sale to developers or individual householders from £170,000 to £185,000, which is about the same price as a standard house built using wet trades.

Nick Fulford, the director of nHouse, argues that with 100 workers operating on an indoor production line rather than on muddy building sites in the elements, the homes will suffer from fewer snagging problems.

Source: The Guardian

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39-home estate in Telford gets the go-ahead

Plans for an estate of almost 40 houses which will transform a site in Telford will go ahead.

The latest scheme by Telford & Wrekin Council’s housing company Nuplace will see 39 properties on land in Snedshill.

A range of two, three and four-bedroom homes will be built after councillors accepted the proposals at the council’s planning committee on Wednesday evening.

As part of the plans along Holyhead Road and Snedshill Way, a total of 15 per cent of the homes will be affordable properties.

Councillors – who voted unanimously to accept the project subject to conditions including a section 106 agreement – raised concerns over the original reduction in affordable homes from 25 per cent.

Councillor Ian Fletcher: “The designs of the houses and layout is appropriate for the type of housing they are. I’m concerned about the affordable housing proportion being reduced down to 15 per cent.”

The houses will be built by Nuplace’s development partner Lovell and made available for rent.

The report, submitted to Telford & Wrekin Council, said: “The application site will provide much needed accommodation on allocated residential land within the village of Snedshill.

“The site is in a sustainable location, where future residents will enjoy close proximity to schools, services, employment, and community facilities.

“The development of the application site will form a natural extension to the existing village boundary, terminating at Holyhead Road, the development will provide a feature to intersection of Holyhead Road and Snedshill Way.

“The site will provide quality new build homes for market rent with a small number of affordable homes, creating an inclusive development for different needs.”

Council officers said the site was not viable to produce the full 25 per cent in affordable homes.

Members of the planning committee also raised the need for appropriate crossing along Holyhead Road.

Councillor Fletcher added: “I think we should have an appropriate crossing along the road.”

Source: Shropshire Star