The £3bn affordable housing scheme

The government launches  £3bn affordable housing scheme 

In the spring statement announced earlier in March, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced a new £3bn Affordable Homes Guarantee scheme which he claims will deliver around 30,000 new homes. The scheme is due to launch in April and will, states Hammond “restore the dream of homeownership”.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding brexit, housing demands are, quite simply, here to stay and grow. It is a case of supply and demand, and as populations continue to rise, quite obviously there will be continued demand for property. Irrespective of the uncertainty in the markets relating to the recently announced additional surcharge or the brexit ‘will they won’t they’ situation, there will constantly be a need for affordable housing in cities, towns and the outskirts – which we’re currently lacking. To sustain the continued rise and requirement for these affordable homes, over 145,000 new homes need to be built every year.

This government scheme is a positive step forwards to tackle the affordable home shortage that grips the UK; The current lack of affordable housing is pushing hundreds of thousands of working families to the breaking point, the quantity rising year on year struggling to live with spiraling debt, threatened by eviction or homelessness. We welcome the governments financial stimulus to alleviate the current housing crisis. However, for this new initiative to add true value, it must be used to help local communities. Affordable housing should be attainable to individuals and families from all walks of life, without having to uproot to new locations, forcing jobs, schools and lifestyles to change. Affordable housing is a wide concept, but the use of this new funding must be more refined to create homes that are genuinely needed.

 

There is no point in developers proposing shared ownership schemes in regions where they are simply not required. One million people are currently on the waiting list for social homes, therefore increasing the number of these properties should be the primary focus. We can’t achieve the level of housebuilding required by borrowing alone, but housing associations can use this financial aid to build more social rent homes – this is the only way that this money will benefit communities that need it most.

More social rent homes will complement some of the government’s other strategies, including the introduction of the Future Homes Standard from 2025 onwards. This initiative will ensure new homes are future-proofed with low-carbon heating and are highly energy efficient – a tactic that will help to cut running costs and reduce fuel poverty. In short, building future-proof and fit-for-purpose social housing is vital. To achieve this, greater emphasis needs to be placed on helping developers to build these new schemes.We are in a prime position to advise housing associations in determining where housing need is at its highest and what housing tenures are needed to benefit wider areas. Once we’ve established this, housing associations can then ensure that these homes are used to rehouse vulnerable residents and support local neighborhoods.

Our ongoing strategic partnerships with housing associations will demonstrate a continued commitment enforcing the placemaking concept, which is what private developers, local councils and housing associations should be striving towards. Placemaking is a long-term commitment to improving the overall quality of neighborhoods and ultimately, improving the standard of living across the UK.

Investar Property Group is currently developing a £6m affordable housing scheme in Salford for Places for People, known as Melody Gardens. The scheme will create 58 new homes, built with local people in mind – all houses will be allocated via the local authority’s choice-based lettings system. Melody Gardens represents a well-thought-out process in which two housing companies worked collaboratively to determine the type of residential scheme that would add the most value in the city.

 

Tactical planning can help to achieve overall regeneration aims, which must include battling the overwhelming demand for social homes. The £3bn financial stimulus from the government should be used to tackle the crisis head on. This will have a lasting effect, offering genuinely affordable social housing, while helping to boost the long-term economic and social value of areas.

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