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City council invests £5m in bringing 50 homes back into use

The city council is to invest £5 million buying properties in Nottingham, so they can be rented out again as social housing.

It is hoped the scheme will help alleviate the current demand for social housing in the city, and could see around 50 houses all over the city brought back into public ownership.

Already, in the first tranche of the project, £2.85 million has been spent on buying 30 properties.

Now, after the Conservative Government lifted a long-opposed borrowing cap for buying social housing, Nottingham City Council has taken advantage and approved plans for the £5 million scheme.

The houses the city council buy will be former council houses which have been bought by tenants under right-to-buy.

Currently, people who live in council-owned housing have the right to buy their house from the council.

But if the private tenants later sell that property, the council is offered the first right of refusal to buy that house back.

The £5 million will be used to take up that offer, and then make any necessary improvements, in order to rent out the houses.

It will add to more than 500 new-build houses which the city council has built in the last five years with housing association Nottingham City Homes.

Councillor Jon Collins is the leader of the city council and represents the St Ann’s ward for Labour.

He said: “We had already begun buying homes in this way, spending £2.85m on over 30 properties to bring them back into our housing stock – and the lifting of the borrowing cap allows us to continue with the second phase of this programme.

“With an ever-growing waiting list and the increasing problem of homelessness, we’re looking at every way possible to increase the number of affordable homes in the city. We have a legal duty to accommodate homeless people.

“We want to make sure we’re not housing these people in bed and breakfast because it’s four times more expensive than a normal rented house. Keeping people in bed and breakfast is incredibly expensive and it’s damaging to families and children.

“Buying houses in this way allows us to provide better accommodation much more quickly and cost-effectively than building from scratch, but having said that, we have completed 500 new homes in the last five years in partnership with Nottingham City Homes.

“Our Building a Better Nottingham programme is the biggest council house building programme for a generation, introducing new, high-quality homes in areas of high demand.”

“We also work alongside all social housing providers to enable more affordable homes to be built all over the city, and require developers of larger schemes to include affordable homes.”

Source: West Bridgford Wire

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Theresa May calls for end to social housing ‘stigma’ as she pledges £2bn for new homes

Theresa May is pledging a £2bn handout to housing associations in a bid to provide tens of thousands of new affordable homes.

Claiming it is her personal mission to get more people on the housing ladder, the Prime Minister is promising long-term funding for housing associations.

In a speech at a National Housing Federation summit, Mrs May will say housing associations have a central role to play in building homes and challenging attitudes about social housing.

“You said that if you were going to take a serious role in not just managing but building the homes this country needs, you had to have the stability provided by long-term funding deals,” she will say.

“Well, eight housing associations have already been given such deals, worth almost £600m and paving the way for almost 15,000 new affordable homes.

“And today, I can announce that new longer-term partnerships will be opened up to the most ambitious housing associations through a ground-breaking £2bn initiative.

“Under the scheme, associations will be able to apply for funding stretching as far ahead as 2028/29 – the first time any government has offered housing associations such long-term certainty.

“Doing so will give you the stability you need to get tens of thousands of affordable and social homes built where they are needed most, and make it easier for you to leverage the private finance you need to build many more.”

The £2bn programme will be available from 2022, Mrs May will say.

Calling for a change in attitudes towards affordable and social housing, the Prime Minister will also say: “For many people, a certain stigma still clings to social housing.

“Some residents feel marginalised and overlooked, and are ashamed to share the fact that their home belongs to a housing association or local authority.

“And on the outside, many people in society – including too many politicians – continue to look down on social housing and, by extension, the people who call it their home.

“I want to see social housing that is so good people are proud to call it their home… Our friends and neighbours who live in social housing are not second-rate citizens.”

Labour’s shadow housing secretary John Healey said Mrs May’s promises “fall far short of what’s needed”.

He said: “The reality is spending on new affordable homes has been slashed so the number of new social rented homes built last year fell to the lowest level since records began.

“If Conservative ministers are serious about fixing the housing crisis they should back Labour’s plans to build a million genuinely affordable homes, including the biggest council house-building programme for over 30 years.”

The National Housing Federation’s chief executive David Orr welcomed the Prime Minister’s pledge.

He said: “The announcement of £2bn of new money for social housing is extremely welcome.

“But the really big news here is the Prime Minister’s long-term commitment to funding new affordable homes. This represents a total step change. For years, the way that money was allocated meant housing associations couldn’t be sure of long-term funding to build much-needed affordable housing.

“Now, by changing the way in which they allocate funding, ministers have given long-term confidence and confirmed that we are trusted partners in solving the housing crisis, building new homes and communities.

“Ultimately, this will have a huge impact on building the affordable homes that thousands of people across the country desperately need.”

Source: Yahoo News UK

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Families in need moving into modular homes a year earlier

Families awaiting social housing in Northern Ireland will be able to move in a year earlier following a major shake-up in house-building methods.

An entire factory-built modular house can now be erected on pre-prepared foundations in a single day, ready for connection to gas, electricity and water supplies.

Clanmil Housing is working with the McAvoy Group builders to deliver new homes using an innovative off-site housing solution.

Forty on the site of the former Woodside’s foodstore in Carrickfergus in Co Antrim will be the first social homes in Northern Ireland delivered using off-site factory construction, Clanmil said.

They modules will be delivered to the site complete with kitchens, bathrooms, windows, flooring and decorated walls.

The £6.2 million housing scheme, a mix of family houses and apartments for active older people, is being built by Clanmil with the assistance of £3.1 million grant support from the Department for Communities.

The new homes, each made up of a number of steel-framed modules, will be manufactured and fully fitted-out by McAvoy in its Lisburn factory before being craned into position on site.

The construction method will reduce the build time for the Carrickfergus development by 56 weeks compared to traditional site-based building, delivering 40 new homes in just nine months.

David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, said: “The UK’s housing shortfall is only going to be addressed by radical innovation in building practices, such as modular housing.

This method of construction has real potential to help address the current housing shortage

David Orr

“This method of construction has real potential to help address the current housing shortage.

“In the UK, the Government sees off-site manufacture as a huge opportunity and has promised to support housing providers to build more homes in this way.

“It is really exciting to see a Northern Ireland housing association and a Northern Ireland manufacturer working together to harness innovation that can deliver homes in up to half the normal time.”

Source: BT.com

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Low-risk investment in social housing

There is a very interesting article by James Johnsen published on the civil society website which gives a great insight into investment in social housing and how it may fit into the future property market. This is an area of the market which is often dismissed as a low margin but the fact that these assets are backed by housing associations/local authorities, with rents guaranteed, offers an interesting opportunity.

HOUSING SHORTAGE

It is common knowledge that the UK has a rising population and a new build housing deficit in the region of 200,000 units per year. This should come as no surprise when you learn that in 2009 the UK government, under Gordon Brown, injected £11.4 billion into the cost of building new homes in the UK. Fast forward to 2015 and under David Cameron’s coalition government this investment had fallen to £5.3 billion. There is an argument to suggest we are not comparing like for like because of the change in economic environment but it does give an example of the reduced investment in the new build housing sector. To perhaps put this into better perspective, this has fallen from 0.7% of GDP to 0.2%.

REDUCED INVESTMENT AND INCREASED HOUSING BENEFIT

One thing very striking about this particular subject is the fact that over the last 20 years, up to the 2015/16 tax year, housing benefit payments in the UK have increased by 50% having reached £25.1 billion. When you compare the reduced investment in new builds against the increase in housing benefit it becomes obvious that there would have been better returns, both financially and socially in the long term, at least sustaining new build financial support. We are now in a situation where rents continue to rise, the cost of property is often out of the reach of new buyers and so demand for rental property continues. A stereotypical vicious circle!

LAND BANKING

Despite political “pressure” we have yet to see any real meaningful regulations introduced with regards to underutilised land banks. There has been talk of additional taxes, compulsory purchases and other “solutions” but so far nothing has been written in stone. We know that the U.K.’s largest housebuilding companies own significant land banks. These non-income producing assets are an investment for the future so perhaps it is a little unfair to criticise companies who plan for the future and build up their land banks? Or should there be more of a balance?

INVESTING IN SOCIAL HOUSING

Over the last couple of years we have seen a number of social housing real estate investment trusts raising money on the stock market. They have been acquiring assets where rent is guaranteed by the local authority and linked to inflation. This ensures that the vast majority of social housing in the UK, now standing at around 4.1 million units, is affordable with a mix of tenant/government assistance. In theory these property should not be at the beck and call of the often volatile private rental market and therefore offer a relatively low-risk long-term income stream.

While the philosophy of ethical investment is perhaps not as strong today as it was 20 years ago, the ability to lock in long-term low-risk rental income streams and offer some assistance to the U.K.’s housing market troubles does have its attractions.

Source: Property Forum

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Major Nottingham social housing project completed

One of the biggest housing regeneration projects in the city for decades has been completed in Lenton by Nottingham City Council and Nottingham City Homes.

Over four years of development has seen the area completely transformed, with five tower blocks demolished to make way for 142 homes, including bungalows, flats, family homes and an award-winning independent living scheme which enables older residents to stay in their community as they age.

The centre of the new neighbourhood features a green corridor – a place for wildlife and nature to thrive, and for residents to relax.

Lenton has been the flagship project in the City Council’s Building a Better Nottingham programme, which has completed 411 new social housing properties on sites around the city, with more in progress or planned.

The outdated tower blocks, which had stood since the sixties, were demolished, transforming the skyline of the city – but they won’t be forgotten. A memory of them is preserved in the site, in the shape of a sculpture, crafted out of a tree removed from the site.

Cllr Jane Urquhart, Portfolio Holder for Planning, Housing and Heritage at Nottingham City Council, said: We are transforming neighborhoods across the city, and creating a variety of quality homes, which, not only suit the differing needs of our citizens, but which are energy efficient, secure and warm.

“Lenton is a prime example of how we are not just building new homes, but completely transforming areas of the city. The flats were iconic and synonymous with the area, so it’s a big change for Lenton – but a positive change, providing modern homes and creating places where people want to live.”

The works were managed and overseen by city’s Arm’s Length Organisation (ALMO) Nottingham City Homes (NCH), who also manage the city’s council housing and recently won three accolades at the prestigious UK Housing Awards, including Landlord of the Year.

Work continues on Church Square in Lenton, to build another 17 affordable rented homes, with a number of other sites across the city also actively transforming neighbourhoods.

Source: West Bridgford Wire

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Sadiq Khan sets up new scheme to deliver 10,000 council homes by 2022

The Mayor of London has committed to supporting 10,000 new council homes in the next four years.

Sadiq Khan today offered new funding of £1.67bn to help councils in their quest to build new social housing. The money was secured in the chancellor’s Spring Statement.

This marks the first ever City Hall programme dedicated to supporting social housing.

The first deals struck under the initiative include a plan for 525 new homes in Waltham Forest, and 1,000 new homes in both Newham and Lewisham over the next four years.

Khan accused the government of having “turned its back” on local authorities and “hampering” their ability to build new homes.

“The government is failing to enable councils to replace the hundreds of thousands of council homes sold through Right to Buy, and so I will do all I can to help councils replace as many of them as possible,” he said.

He pledged to call for the government to give London councils access to increased borrowing limits to give greater flexibility.

Expertise and resources from City Hall will also be made available to local councils in the capital to scale up homebuilding programmes.

Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz OBE said: “Tens of thousands of Newham families are in desperate need of affordable, quality homes. I share the Mayor of London’s commitment to kick-start major council housebuilding in the capital as the only way we can realistically tackle the housing crisis.”

Source: City A.M.

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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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Labour pledge to build one million affordable homes to end housing ‘crisis’

The rise in homelessness shows there is something “deeply wrong with our country”, Jeremy Corbyn said as he set out Labour plans to build a million “genuinely affordable” properties over 10 years.

The Labour leader promised a “new era of social housing” and a return to a system where a decent home is “not a privilege for the few”.

The plan involves building 100,000 affordable homes a year – with Labour promising to tear up Conservative rules which allow homes worth up to £450,000 to be classed as affordable.

Launching a consultation on Labour’s plans at an event in London, Mr Corbyn said it was a “time of crisis for our housing system”.

“A million on housing waiting lists, tens of thousands of children in temporary accommodation without a home to call their own, homelessness up by 50% since 2010, the indignity of sleeping on our streets at night or sofa-surfing among friends,” he said.

There were “sky high” rents and house prices, and “luxury flats proliferating across our big cities while social housing is starved of investment”.

He said that housing had “become a means of speculation for the wealthy few”.

On the plight of homeless people, he said: “There is something that I think is deeply wrong with our country that we tolerate the idea that several thousand of our citizens should sleep rough on our streets every night, or if a church is open they will sleep on church pews.

“We can, must and will do better than that in the future.”

He promised a Labour government would “immediately purchase enough places so that rough sleeping can end as quickly as we can possibly do it”, while also building more housing and move-on accommodation for people leaving shelters.

As part of the reforms to the housing market, Labour would create a new English Land Sovereign Trust – backed by compulsory purchase powers – to make land available for building more cheaply.

Under the scheme, landowners would lose a slice of the extra value created by the granting of planning permission, which can see the price of agricultural land rocket 100-fold from £21,000 to £2.1 million a hectare outside London.

Labour always make big promises and always fail to deliver them

Housing Minister Dominic Raab

In response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy, Labour would introduce new decent homes targets for social landlords, including fire safety for the first time. And a new independent national organisation and a Commissioner would be created to represent the views of tenants.

Local authorities in every part of England would face a “duty to deliver affordable homes”.

The policies would be driven through by a new Department for Housing and monitored by an independent watchdog.

Labour accused Conservatives of making “bogus” claims on affordable house-building on their watch, by stretching the definition to include properties for sale at up to £450,000 or rented at 80% of market value – more than £1,500 a month in some areas.

A new definition would be linked to local incomes to ensure homes are genuinely affordable. And Labour will suspend the “right to buy” scheme as part of a package of measures to stop the loss of existing social rented homes.

Housing Minister Dominic Raab dismissed the plans, saying: “Labour always make big promises and always fail to deliver them.”

He claimed that Labour would “kick away the housing ladder from everyone living in council houses by taking away their Right to Buy, just as Labour did in Wales”.

Source: BT.com