11/02/2015 Leave a comment
Last Wednesday week I was in the Grand Committee room of the House of Common for the launch of the long awaited Elphicke-House Report ‘From statutory provider to housing delivery enabler: Review into the local authority role in housing supply’.
It’s an important report in that it was commissioned by the Treasury to look at the issue of how we as a country can build more houses from a local government’s role prospective and by that I don’t mean the usual planning policy prospective. how we as a country can and need to build more houses. Danny Alexander MP, The Finance Minister of State and Brandon Lewis MP the Local Government Minister of State for planning and housing, spoke at the launch and this gives you some idea of how seriously it is taken.
I had a particular interest in this report as I was asked to be one of its ‘expert witnesses’ essentially because I have some 30 years knowledge of the Housebuilding, land and planning sector but can also blend this with knowledge of local government across County and District council responsibilities and my more detailed knowledge of Adult Social Care and housing for older people, something I have led on in Suffolk with the two conferences I arranged on Housing for an Ageing population.
The report can be downloaded from https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/398829/150126_LA_Housing_Review_Report_FINAL.pdf and if you have an interest in local government and housing delivery this is a must read.
It’s not a report about the planning system nor about money, both Natalie and Keith were clear about that as they introduced it. As Keith put it it’s about how Councils should be Housing Delivery Enablers not just a sausage machine for developers to get planning permissions.
In her introduction Natalie posed a really great question to the bankers and investment fund managers in the room ‘How many meetings would you attend before you gave up and went to a different use class of investment’ as they found that sometimes, before a brick is laid up to 300 meetings will take place and this needs to change.
The report itself draws on the innovative approaches and case study examples, from the a very wide range 15% to 20% of the councils who are active in this space and following this report hopefully others taking a central role as Housing Delivery Enablers, working collaboratively with partners across all sectors to increase the building of new homes that can support strong and prosperous communities.
It’s also great news that government has welcomed the report, and accepted its core recommendation that councils should become Housing Delivery Enablers. By being proactive in identifying housing need and opportunity, working with partners, and actively using their assets and knowledge to unlock housing opportunities, councils can and frankly should be at the heart of delivering more homes and building strong communities.
Government’s response can be viewed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/councils-can-enable-more-homes-to-be-built