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Reaction: industry responds to plans to end affordable homes quotas

The profession broadly welcomes the recommendations in the government-comissioned Monatgue Report which, among other things, has urged a relaxing of requirements for affordable homes in new build schemes

Read full analysis of the report here.

Ben Derbyshire, managing director of HTA
‘We have been calling on policymakers to recognise that large scale, well regulated privately rented housing would be a public good were it to reappear as part of the British housing market from which it has been virtually absent for many years.  We have pointed out the opportunity for city fathers to stimulate the emergence of a new housing typology, akin to the emergence of the mansion block in the mid nineteenth century. ‘So we are really excited that this Government sponsored report has backed these ideas so fully.  We need new supply to meet the growing demand of the ‘rentysomethings’ in terms of quality and opportunity. This will complement and take pressure off the affordable sector – it won’t compete with it.’

David Morley of David Morley Architects:
‘Travelling around our cities there are some very bad examples where developments have visible affordable housing component which appear on the outside to be cheaper than their surrounding developments and this should be avoided, whether by design or policy. A formula whereby accessible housing could be made available without rigid quotas sounds interesting.’

Andy von Bradsky, chairman of PRP:
‘In the absence of public subsidy, institutional investment into the affordable housing sector is not just desirable, it is essential in thriving Build to Let housing model could kick start a revival in the market and help deliver the volume that is required.
“The Montague Report is excellent in identifying the key barriers and it is now down to government and Local Authorities to address the planning obstacles and designate sufficient land, to build confidence for investors.  I am particularly pleased that reference is made to setting up ‘Kitemarks’ to ensure quality is delivered in the sector.
‘The only criticism is reference to reducing requirements for affordable housing on developments. Despite government’s statements to the contrary, there is a shortfall of affordable housing in the UK which is getting steadily worse and we should be seeking ways of increasing rather than reducing supply.’

Dominic J Eaton, director at Stride Treglown Tektus:
‘By relaxing the requirements for affordable homes in new build schemes, it will help stimulate the delivery of new homes. However this will result in fewer affordable homes being constructed as a result.
‘Like most things, a balance has to be found so that a win-win situation can be struck between encouraging and stimulating new development while at the same time providing the much needed affordable provision.
‘It would be beneficial to take a pragmatic view where each site is reviewed and assessed on its own merits and recognisers any abnormal’s which could affect viability, such as a high content of contamination. There is a mechanism in place to do exactly this, but I have never see it incorporated on any of the housing schemes that I am involved.’

Tony Hutchison, Capita Symonds:
‘Stimulating the supply of new homes is important for families, communities and the country. A considered, concerted and coordinated approach to identifying blockages in the development cycle is needed, so rethinking affordable housing contributions has to be part of the analysis, and potentially of the solution. Equally all aspects of S106 contributions are worth considering, but there is a cost to the community if the mitigation measures needed to make development acceptable are foregone. Where and how will this loss be made good? If the process is not transparent and communities feel that cosy deals are being done to benefits developers at the expense of their interests there will be further erosion of confidence in the planning system.
‘If the conditions applied to a planning consent necessary to protect the interests of local people and to mitigate the impacts of a development are relaxed this has to be on the basis that when the development makes money some of that surplus is available to the community. One option would be for the local authority in return for relaxing S106 contributions to have a stake in the development and take some of the benefit in homes, cash or other benefits.’

Readers' comments (1)

  • If the Montague Review results in a Taskforce to drive a few pilot schemes, it will need to triangulate between investors, stock designers/ managers and planners to achieve a deliverable product. Innovative design, management structures and zoning controls will be needed. Is it better to have affordable homes with some shared facilities, to achieve realistic management costs, than none at all? At the same time, leasehold products need to be created that adopt the best features of Continental approaches, to catalyse the emerging demand for long-term rent.

    Given that land will be the biggest single input cost to delivery in most places, there is no reason why mixed communities have to be jettisoned if land costs are addressed.

    If State Aid issues are dealt with properly - valuing the injection of public land as a long-term investment - there is no reason why initial land costs cannot be controlled by contributing some of the public land identified in the Housing Strategy or encouraging the use of CPO powers to achieve realistic values (that take the costs of complying with, not abandoning, planning policies into account in generating land values).

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