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No end in sight for affordability crisis, AJ poll shows

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Almost three out of 10 architects saw a fall in the amount of affordable housing they designed over the past year, an exclusive AJ poll reveals

Of the nearly 200 practitioners, technologists and part-qualified architects questioned as part of our survey of the housing sector, some 29 per cent reported a fall in the share of affordable homes in commissioned schemes over the last 12 months.

Only two out of 10 respondents said the proportion had increased, while half saw no change, the poll showed.

This drop in affordable housing number is unlikely to reverse this year, according to data provided to AJ by Glenigan, a company that tracks construction deals.

These figures predict a sharp fall in the number of new social homes that will be started this election year.

Only 26,500 homes are expected to be begun in 2015, a drop of 15 per cent from the 31,000 number of starts Glenigan estimates for 2014.

The scale of this fall is partly explained by the end of the government’s main publically funded affordable housing programme through the Homes and Communties Agency in April.

Allan Wilén, economics director at Glenigan, said housing association had taken some time to “get going” on the programme which was significantly altered by the coalition government.

Under the current funding regime, social landlords must let homes at 80 per cent of current market rates- a big change from the ‘social rent’ levels offered under the previous administration’s programme.

Wilén said he did expect a ‘small’ increase in housing orders as local authorities began commissioning homes again.

The poll results and Glenigan figures are further evidence that the housing affordability crisis gripping large swathes of England is unlikely to be eased anytime soon.

They come as the prime minister this week signalled a further shift in policy towards discounts for private sale homes with its pledge to build 200,000 first time buyer homes.

Under the scheme, house builders will be let off section 106 planning obligations when they build and sell homes with a minimum 20% discount.

According to Wilén, the first time buyers initiative could further constrain the delivery of ‘social housing’ which would not include those proposed under the discount scheme.

‘Listening to the announcements from the current government in terms of more affordable home, it is very much private sector for purchase.

‘A lot of this will be at the expense of section 106 and will constrain social housing.’

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