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Plans for 20 new homes to fight homelessness in Wolverhampton

Housing bosses in Wolverhampton are set to discuss plans for 20 new homes on the site of a derelict former adventure playground, as part of an ongoing drive to combat homelessness in the city.

The council this week warned private landlords that any homes left empty for long periods of time will be seized and used to provide accommodation for needy families – with houses in Bilston and Pennfields among the latest.

Alongside the council’s Empty Properties Strategy, it is anticipated that the continued residential development of suitable empty areas of land in the borough will help to drive down the numbers of homeless families and rough sleepers in the city.

The site of the former Old Fallings Adventure Playground, which finally closed in November last year following repeated episodes of vandalism, has now been earmarked for a new housing development.

The city council’s Scrutiny Board is set to discuss the matter next month.

Councillor Peter O’Neill, chairman of the council’s Children, Young People and Families Scrutiny Panel, said: “Now that this site has been declared as ‘surplus’, it could instead be used to build much-needed new housing which would greatly revitalise the surrounding area.

“There is a desperate need for housing in the area and we have been working with Wolverhampton Homes and other partners to look at ways in which we can develop it.

“The area is about two and-a-half acres in size and a housing project would mean it is likely to be a building site for a couple of years.

“However, we are actively looking at whether it could be used to help meet the growing demand for new housing in the city by developing around 20 properties on the site.”

The latest two privately owned long-term empty homes identified for compulsory purchase orders by the council this week are located in Beckett Street, Bilston, and Rayleigh Road, Pennfields.

Despite the increasing demand for new housing in Wolverhampton, a recent survey conducted by national firm Attic Self Storage revealed that the number of long-term vacant properties in the West Midlands has steadily improved over the years, with 26,402 in 2004, 10,867 in 2013 and 9,778 by the end of 2017.

During this period Wolverhampton reported an improvement rate of 0.6 per cent behind Walsall and Sandwell.

Source: Express and Star

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Construction output rises despite Brexit uncertainty, says FMB

The Government must not be complacent about the damage a ‘no deal’ Brexit would cause amid positive signs of growth in the UK construction industry, says the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Commenting on the construction output figures for November 2018, published by the Office for National Statistics, Sarah McMonagle, Director of External Affairs at the FMB, said: “The UK construction sector grew by 2.1 per cent during September to November 2018 compared with the previous three months. This is despite unparalleled levels of political uncertainty around the very real prospect of a ‘no deal’ scenario. However, we are urging the Government not to allow these results to create a false sense of security. Since November, political uncertainty has cranked up and is increasing every day. A growing and prosperous construction sector will be a distant memory if the Government allows the UK to crash out of the EU without a deal in place.”

McMonagle concluded: “The construction industry is also extremely concerned about the Government’s proposed post-Brexit immigration system. In the Immigration White Paper, published at the end of last year, the Government revealed that they will make few allowances for low skilled workers to enter the UK post-Brexit. Most tradespeople will be defined as low skilled and therefore will not be permitted to enter the UK, regardless of whether they are from the EU or further afield. It is crucial that the Government introduces a post-Brexit immigration system that continues to allow us to draw on essential migrant workers or else their house building and infrastructure targets will be totally unachievable.”

Source: Politics Home

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Britain heads for worst house building decade since 1940s

Britain is heading for the worst house building decade since World War Two.

Despite Government efforts to boost house building, completions in England between 2010 and 2019 are set to average out at around 130,000 per year.

This is well short of the 147,000 achieved in the 2000s or the 150,000 of the 1990s, and half of the level in the 1960s and 1970s.

The picture becomes even worse when population size is factored in.

In the 1960s, the new-build construction rate in England was roughly the equivalent of one home for every 14 people over the decade. In the 2010s, that ratio was one to 43, more than three times higher.

The figures are improved somewhat when you factor in conversions of existing properties, which push the total up – but even then, the total of net additional dwellings – the yardstick for overall housing supply – is likely to be lower this decade than last.

Across the United Kingdom as a whole, the pattern is broadly similar, with house building falling from a peak of 3.6m new units in the 1960s to 1.9m in the 1990s and 2000s, with the 2010s set to come in lower still.

Robert Colvile, Director of the Centre for Policy Studies, said: “The housing crisis is blighting the lives of a generation, and robbing them of the dream of home ownership.

“But as this analysis shows, this is not just the consequence of the financial crisis – it is part of a pattern stretching back half a century, in which we have steadily built fewer and fewer new homes.

“The Government has rightly promised to focus on this issue, and there are encouraging signs that housebuilding is picking up.

“But ministers need to take bold action in 2019 to ensure that the 2020s become the decade in which we break this hugely damaging cycle.”

Source: Construction Enquirer

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Labour hits out as ministers admit just 5% of new ‘affordable’ homes will be in cheapest category

Only five percent of new homes funded under a government scheme will be of the most affordable kind, it has been revealed.

Prime Minister Theresa May has previously pledged to build “new generation of social homes”, which are pegged to local incomes to keep them affordable.

However, responding to a parliamentary question from Labour, Housing Secretary James Brokenshire said: “The £9bn Affordable Homes Programme will deliver at least 250,000 homes by March 2022.

“At least 12,500 of these will be for social rent outside of London. The Greater London Authority has the flexibility to deliver social rent in London.”

The remaining 237,500 homes not set for social rent outside of London are likely to be at the more expensive “affordable” housing rent, which are available to let at 80 percent of their market value.

Labour’s Shadow Housing Secretary condemned the revelation as “not good enough”.

Speaking to the Independent – which first reported on the figures – John Healey said: “There’s been a disastrous fall in the number of new genuinely affordable homes for social rent under the Conservatives.

We are now building over 30,000 fewer social rented homes a year than when I was Labour’s last housing minister in 2010.

“Ministers’ flawed definition of ‘affordable housing’ includes homes for sale at up to £450,000 and to let at 80 per cent of market rents, so it’s just not good enough for ministers to only commit a tiny fraction of the affordable homes budget to new social rented homes.”

Housing and homelessness charities also made their concerns public.

Crisis chief executive Jon Sparkes told the Independent: “It is very disappointing to see such a tiny proportion of the properties to be delivered through the Affordable Homes Programme being made available for social rent.

“Research shows we need 90,000 social homes built every year for the next 15 years to meet demand – both for those experiencing homelessness, and for those on low incomes, many of whom are at risk of homelessness.”

But Housing Minister Kit Malthouse said governments “of all stripes” had built “too few homes of all types, including for affordable and social rent”.

He added: “We’re correcting this with massive investment in house building, including the £9bn affordable homes programme, but also by setting councils free to build the social homes their communities need.

“We expect many thousands of new homes to result and we share the impatience of the British people to see decent homes built for the next generation.”

Source: Politics Home

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The five-year plan to tackle homelessness in Coventry

Growing concerns about the number of homeless people in Coventry are being tackled in a new five-year plan developed by the city council.

From 2013/14 to 2017/18 just over 5,000 approached the council because they were homeless or threatened with homelessness.

The main reasons for homelessness included a family relationship breakdown (29 per cent), end of private rented tenancy (28 per cent in 2017/18) and the violent breakdown of a relationship (13 per cent).

The council’s Housing and Homelessness Strategy 2019-2024 highlights the need to reduce the number of people in temporary accommodation, and provide enough affordable homes.

It also pledges to develop a ‘partnership approach to street homelessness’, bring empty homes back into use and improve maintenance of all rented properties – which makes up 25 per cent of housing in Coventry.

Housing shortage

Latest figures indicate that nationally only around 160-165,000 new house are being built every year – well short of the government’s target to build 300,000 new homes a year.

At a scrutiny meeting this week, cabinet member for housing Councillor Ed Ruane said: “It is not rocket science – we need to build more homes and we need to be less timid when people object to house building.

“We need to be building houses at a much quicker rate than what we are.”

 

Mark Andrews, planning and housing policy manager, added: “There has been a real reference to making sure we do not just deliver affordable houses, but genuinely affordable homes.

“We are thinking about what is affordable to Mr and Mrs Coventry.”

Temporary accommodation

Coventry City Council no longer owns any council housing after the stock was transferred to Whitefriars Housing Group in 2000.

But it is looking at ways to get homeless people into more suited temporary accommodation and recently agreed to enter into a £1.7m lease to place them into Caradoc Hall as just one measure.

 Caradoc Hall
Caradoc Hall

The council’s last contract for homelessness and ex-offenders accommodation and support was awarded to The Salvation Army in April 2014, which was worth £9.1m.

It is due to be re-commissioned when it comes to an end in April, but the council has been urged to rethink this.

Louise Morley, from the Experts by Experience group, said: “We are discussing the possibility of multiple homelessness providers within the city.

“Currently it is the Salvation Army and that’s the choice. Once you have been thrown out of the Salvation Army you are back on the streets.”

Kate Still, West Midlands Housing Group’s chief operating officer added: “There is no single organisation in the city than can meet the full needs of homelessness. It is very diverse.”

Women on the streets

Calls were also made for stand-alone support for women who end up on the streets due to abuse.

Ms Morley added: “We would also like to see some provision for women as well. If you have been subject to any kind of abuse it is currently not fit for purpose.”

A consultation ended on December 18 and will be presented to cabinet and council for approval in February.

Source: Coventry Telegraph

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Scottish Government urged to build on housebuilding momentum

As the level of housing completions continues to head in the right direction, the country’s home building industry has urged the Scottish Government to build on this positive news to enable it to deliver more of the homes Scotland’s growing population needs.

Official statistics released yesterday found there were 18,182 new build homes completed across all sectors over the year ending June 2018, an increase of 4%, or 695 homes, on the previous year.

The rise included increases in housing association completions (25% or 618 homes) and local authority completions (25% or 306 homes), whilst private-led completions fell by 229 homes (2%). The total number of social sector completions (housing association and local authority starts combined) increased by 924 homes (25%).

There were 19,903 all sector new build starts in the 12 months to end June 2018, a figure which is 1,121 homes (6%) higher than the number of completions in the same period, but which is a decrease of 1,231 homes (6%) on the 20,534 starts in the previous year. Private-led starts fell by 1,593 homes (11%) and housing association approvals decreased by 215 homes (4%), whilst local authority starts increased by 577 homes (48%). The total number of social sector starts (housing association and local authority starts combined) increased by 362 homes (6%).

Nicola Barclay, chief executive of trade body Homes for Scotland, said: “It’s great to see ongoing growth in the overall number of homes being built, but just under seven hundred extra homes over the last year is not going to solve our housing crisis. In order to return to the levels of a decade ago, we would need to see ten times this number on an annual basis.

“Scotland’s housing market remains amongst the most affordable places to live in the UK, and huge social and economic opportunities exist for the Scottish Government to attract further housing investment from both within Scotland and elsewhere – if it can create and maintain the favourable conditions this requires.

“Ways in which this can be achieved include ensuring the Planning Bill currently going through the Scottish Parliament meets the original objective of delivering more homes; encouraging more entrants into the industry; supporting those SMEs who want to develop more homes; preserving a regulatory environment that promotes investment and ensuring policies like Help to Buy are continued until such times that the mortgage market fully supports First Time Buyers.

“Ultimately, it needs joined-up thinking across portfolios, therefore we look forward to seeing how (this week’s) Budget supports sustainable housing growth so builders can contribute even more to Scotland’s social wellbeing and economic success.”

Housing minister Kevin Stewart welcomed the figures which also revealed a 21% rise in the number of affordable homes delivered in Scotland during the last year.

A total of 8,767 affordable homes were delivered for the year to September 2018, an increase on the 7,271 completions in the previous year.

As a result, the total number of affordable homes provided since 2007 has reached 80,104.

The figures also showed there were 5,340 social rented homes delivered, an increase of 864 homes, or 19%, on the previous year.

Kevin Stewart MSP said: “Making sure everyone has a safe, warm and affordable home is central to our drive for a fairer and more prosperous Scotland.

“That is why I am proud that this government has now delivered more than 80,000 affordable homes since 2007. This is a significant achievement – boosting the supply of affordable homes in communities right across the country.

“During the course of this Parliament we are investing more than £3 billion to deliver our target of at least 50,000 affordable, high-quality homes, including 35,000 homes for social rent.

“While we know this is an ambitious target, we have shown we can deliver on housing and we will continue to do so.”

However Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said the figures prove the Scottish Government has a long way to go to meet its 2021 housing target.

He said: “The programme to develop 35,000 new homes for social rent by 2021 is one of the most important projects on the Scottish Government’s agenda.

“The latest figures show that with half the time gone only 11,825 social homes have been completed to date. This leaves much of the target on the drawing board and means we will have to see an acceleration in building if the target is to be met.”

Graeme Brown added:  “The more homes programme is a promise to Scotland that must not be broken. It represents the biggest investment in social housing since the 1970s and a chance to begin to restore the foundations of our housing safety net which has been badly damaged by decades of underinvestment.”

Source: Scottish Construction Now

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Plans for 400 homes in Walsall revived

More than 400 homes will be built on a Walsall estate under plans which are set to be given the green light when they come before council bosses next week.

Walsall Housing Group and Keepmoat Homes want to build 407 homes on land at Goscote Lane, in Goscote, near Pelsall, as part of the borough’s ‘biggest ever residential regeneration scheme’

Walsall Council’s planning officers have recommended the scheme is approved at the meeting on Thursday.

The news comes after planning bosses approved a plan to build 426 houses on the land in April last year, but no work began and now a fresh application for 407 homes has been submitted.

Head of development at Walsall Housing Group, Mark Ramdehal, said: “This is the final phase of the borough’s biggest ever residential regeneration scheme, delivering more than 800 new energy efficient homes in North Walsall.

“These revised plans have seen us replace proposed one and two bedroom apartments with two, three and four bedroom houses, in recognition of the need for more affordable family homes within the region.

“Subject to planning permission, we aim to be on site in the New Year, with the first homes completed by the end of 2019.”

The 407 houses includes 281 dwellings for private sale, and 126 for affordable general needs which compromise of bungalows and houses.

In the application, agent Konstantina Zannetaki says: “The development is part of the wider Goscote Lane Corridor Regeneration scheme, which is part of Walsall Council’s Strategic Regeneration Framework (SRF) initiative.

“The aim of the initiative is to regenerate the wider area with new, high quality housing and attractive, usable open spaces.

“The aim of this scheme is to create a safe, secure and desirable place to live in. It is vital that the proposals are influenced by and respond sensitively to the site’s context and surrounding buildings.”

The main entrance onto the site would be along the western boundary at the junction with Goscote Lane and Goscote Lane Crescent. A secondary entrance would run parallel to this, further south.

Councillor Ian Robertson, who represents the Blakenall ward, said: “We hoped that it would have started by now, but we welcome the fact that it’s moving forward and a new community can grow where the old one failed.”

Source: Express and Star

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Net injection of new homes in England reaches highest point in decade

The net injection of new homes into England’s housing supply is at its highest levels in a decade, official figures show.

There were 222,190 net additions in 2017-18 – up by 2% on 2016-17, figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government show.

It is the highest annual total recorded since 2007-08 – although the overall rate at which supply has been increasing year-on-year has slowed down.

In terms of housing gains last year, there were 195,290 new build homes – a 6% increase on the number of new build additions a year earlier.

And there were 29,720 gains from change of use from non-domestic properties to residential ones, such as by converting former offices and agricultural, storage and light industrial buildings into properties for people to live in.

There were also 4,550 gains from conversions from houses to flats and 680 other gains made up of homes such as caravans and house boats.

All of these increases were offset by 8,050 demolitions – making a total net increase of 222,190 homes between the start of April in 2017 and the end of March in 2018.

The latest net increase in housing supply is just 1% below a peak seen in 2007-08, when there was a 223,530 net increase.

The net increase in housing supply dropped off in the economic downturn but has since been recovering.

The net injection of new homes in 2017-18 sits 78% above a trough in 2012-13 when the figure was 124,720.

However, the annual increase of 2% in England’s net housing supply is lower than a 15% annual increase seen in 2016-17, an 11% rise in 2015-16 and a 25% upswing in 2014-15.

Polly Neate, chief executive of Shelter, said: “It’s good to see that the number of homes being delivered has risen again in the last year.

“To end the housing crisis, it’s crucial this progress continues and that as many as possible are social homes.”

Stewart Baseley, executive chairman at the Home Builders Federation (HBF), said the figures show the home building industry is delivering the increases in housing supply the country needs.

He said: “Whilst the second-hand market remains sluggish amidst wider economic uncertainty, with Help to Buy enabling first-time buyers to purchase new build homes, builders have continued to invest and increase output.”

He continued: “Whilst huge progress is being made, the Government needs to continue to work with all parts of the housing sector to assist them to deliver further increases if we are to hit their 300,000 target.”

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said: “Today’s figures are great news and show another yearly increase in the number of new homes delivered, but we are determined to do more to keep us on track to deliver the homes communities need.

“That’s why we have set out an ambitious package of measures to deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s. This includes over £44 billion investment, rewriting the planning rules and scrapping the borrowing cap so councils can deliver a new generation of council housing.”

Source: Yahoo Finance UK

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Construction sector grows but uncertainty remains

Official figures released today have revealed that the UK construction industry has continued to grow over the last quarter despite uncertainty around Brexit. 

The IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Total Activity Index posted its second-highest level in 16 months at 53.2 in October, up from 52.1 in September.

However it was still some way below the long-run survey average of 54.3.

This was in part due to a slowdown in housebuilding across the UK which has put a drag on the construction industry.

Blane Perrotton, managing director of the national property consultancy and surveyors Naismiths, said: “The construction industry is enjoying an Indian Summer.

“True, the surge in output in the third quarter is flattered by comparison with the grim decline of the first quarter and the plodding indifference of the second. But this is real, and welcome, progress.

“Housebuilding retains its crown as both poster child and ‘get out of jail’ card for the industry as a whole. Housebuilders delivered a half billion boost to the industry in the third quarter, but elsewhere the growth was patchy at best. Infrastructure work remains in positive territory but output is down, with contractors focusing on finishing existing projects rather than starting new ones.

“Among developers there is a widening confidence gap between the overheated South East and other areas where demand is stronger and margins better.

“Despite a marked improvement in the Brexit mood music this week, months of deadlocked negotiations have choked investor appetite. Unless and until the political limbo is ended, the industry will continue its holding pattern of two steps forward and one step back.”

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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UK housebuilders under pressure

The UK housebuilding sector faces several challenges, all of which have weighed on its performance, but valuations still remain interesting.