Fife Council has approved an investment plan which aims to deliver 3,500 new homes by 2022. Fife Housing Partnership’s Strategic Housing Investment Plan (SHIP) for 2019-2022 was recently approved by the council’s Community and Housing Services Committee.
It focuses on the delivery of social housing by Fife Council and the Fife Housing Association Alliance over the next four years.
The strong partnership approach between Fife Council and the Fife Housing Association Alliance, enables partners to plan future funding to make best use of resources.
Cllr Judy Hamilton, convener of the community & housing services committee, said: “We remain absolutely committed to meeting the housing needs of people of Fife. There is no doubt in my mind that good quality, warm and safe housing is a determinant of health and well-being. It is the bedrock of strong communities.
“The Strategic Housing Investment Plan outlines a mix of potential development projects, providing Fife with a realistic and practical plan to deliver the vital homes that the people of Fife need. Fife Council and the Fife Housing Association Alliance have an ambitious programme to build 3,500 new affordable homes across the Kingdom by 2022 through Fife’s Strategic Housing Investment Plan.”
The UK government has announced another £250m for building desperately-needed new homes across England.
A new round of housing deals is the latest in a series of steps taken by the government as it strives towards its goal of building 300,000 new homes each year.
As part of this, £157m will be invested for new infrastructure in Cumbria and Devon, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) said.
The money will pay for a new motorway link between south Carlisle and the M6, unlocking up to 10,000 new homes at St Cuthbert’s Garden Village.
In Devon, £55m will be spent on road improvements and other infrastructure so 2,500 homes can be built to the south-west of Exeter.
In addition, 1,500 homes will be built in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park following a £78m loan from Homes England.
The loan is part of the government’s £4.5bn Home Building Fund, which provides development and infrastructure finance to home builders.
The first phase of the development is expected to end in summer 2021, with full completion by 2028, the MHCLG said.
The UK is currently facing its biggest housing shortfall on record, with a backlog of almost 4 million homes, according to research by Heriot-Watt University.
James Brokenshire, communities secretary, said: “We delivered 222,000 homes last year, which is the highest number in a decade, but we must keep upping our game.
“We are invoking the spirit of Britain’s post-war push to build as we strive to hit our target of 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s, for the first time since the days of Harold Macmillan.
“By investing in infrastructure, freeing up public sector land and offering targeted loans we are making the housing market work.
“These deals struck today will help us build almost 25,000 more homes – which is another symbolic step towards our homebuilding targets.”
A new partnership by Homes England will create 10,000 properties on Ministry of Defence land on seven military bases – with the potential for surplus army land to be used in the future.
Tobias Ellwood, minister for defence, people and veterans, said: “As we work to make our military bases more modern and efficient, it’s important that former MOD land is used in a way which serves local residents and the economy.
“This new partnership underlines our commitment to helping housebuilding in this country and will provide good value for money to taxpayers.”
Sites will be developed at bases RAF Henlow, MOD Site 4, Swynnerton Training Camp, Claro and Deverell Barracks, MDPGA Wethersfield, Prince William of Gloucester Barracks and Chetwynd Barracks.
The Scottish Government could struggle to meet its target to build 50,000 homes by 2021 due to a lack of workers, industry bosses have suggested.
At the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee was told the impact of Brexit, as well as large projects in England, had reduced the number of people available to work on projects.
Concerns were raised by a panel of construction sector leaders that the reduction, combined with too few young people entering the industry, could lead to an insufficient number of Scottish workers being available to build new housing.
Unite the union’s Steven Dillon suggested that following the completion of large projects in Scotland such as the Queensferry Crossing and the Aberdeen bypass, workers have been making the move to England in search of work.
Mr Dillon said: “One of the biggest problems we’re going to have with building houses is the labour market.
“There’s a lot of major problems starting in England, such as HS2 and Hinkley Point, and it’s going to drain the Scottish economy of crafts people.
“That’s one of the major concerns this committee should have. We’re going to have a skills shortage when the contract on HS2 takes off.
“The amount of Scottish workers that have moved down to Hinkley Point … you need to look at that if you’re talking about building these houses.
“It may be a case of boosting apprentice numbers, for example, so that we can build these houses.
“The workers are critical no matter what you do because it’s not going to be built using a computer.”
Hew Edgar, interim head of UK policy for the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in Scotland, indicated the availability of large projects could help to attract and retain workers.
“The Queensferry Crossing was a great piece of work,” said Mr Edgar.
“It was what we would consider a mega-project. The problem in Scotland now is that we don’t have a mega-project to look forward to.
“So the talent and the labour force that was attracted to Scotland to work on this project have now left to seek employment.
“It would be prudent of the Scottish Government to ensure that there’s a pipeline of mega-projects or large-scale projects that would entice talent to come to Scotland and work and also to remain”.
Ian Rogers, Scottish Decorators Federation chief executive, said the UK’s departure from the EU would also cause problems for the sector with fewer workers from Europe being available.
He also suggested the construction industry would be forced to compete with other sectors, including retail and the hotel trade, in attracting new apprentices.
“We’re now looking at Brexit as a no-deal possibly,” Mr Rogers said.
“That is going to stop the inflow of labour because it won’t meet the government’s minimum wage criteria in some areas.”
“We’ll then be fishing in a pond that everybody’s fishing in for apprentices.”
Simon Rawlinson, of Arcadis, representing the Construction Leadership Council, said: “I think it’s important that the committee recognises that the supply chain and the labour force involved in the delivery of housing is almost completely different to the supply chain that is involved in the delivery of large civil engineering projects.”
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.
The Shelter housing commission’s report (Cross-party call to build 3m new social homes, 8 January) stands in danger of simply racking up change-of-use inflation in land prices, putting the unearned value uplift of as much as 70% into the pockets of speculators. Unless the basic structure of housing provision in the UK is changed to restore to local authorities powers of compulsory purchase, with taxation on the land-value enhancement, this will be the unintended consequence.
The result of right-to-buy has been the sell-off of 60,000 council homes with a £3.5bn public subsidy, and 40% of that stock finding its way into the hands of private landlords, who rent it back, often to the same local authority at hugely inflated rates. A straight transfer of public wealth into private hands.
Have the report’s authors studied the 2016 research that showed unimplemented planning consents for nearly half a million homes in England and Wales? Or that in the same year, according to government data analysed by the online estate agent HouseSimple, the number of empty homes in England rose for the first time in a decade to 205,293, representing £50bn worth of vacant property stock?
Research shows that there is little evidence of a shortfall in the housing stock. The crisis we suffer from is largely the result of acute maldistribution within an economic structure which encourages maximum consumption of a scarce resource by those with the means to command the market, at the expense of the many with little or no access to capital. Land value taxation is one mechanism which would very swiftly and relatively painlessly provide a counterbalance to this vicious cycle of ever increasing disparity of wealth distribution. The Housing And Planning Act should be rescinded, restoring security of tenure to existing tenants.
The equalisation of VAT on refurbishment with the current zero rate for new housebuilding would remove a 20% incentive to demolish and redevelop. With a level playing field, an objective cost comparison could be made between proper maintenance and redevelopment, with all the social cost the latter involves. Kate Macintosh Winchester, Hampshire
• Before we start spending a projected £225bn on concreting over huge tracts of increasingly precious green space, how about doing more with the existing housing stock? Rent control, much longer tenancies with, obviously, an end to no-fault evictions, penal taxation of property left empty, and the compulsory purchase and improvement – or redevelopment – of substandard rental accommodation, and thus its conversion to social housing, would collectively be quicker and cheaper. Sure, all of that would soften prices, but the issue is homes, not investments, and spending power released by lower housing costs – both personal discretionary and for government in housing benefit savings – would flow into the wider economy. John Worrall Cromer, Norfolk
• This report is good news. But there is also an urgent need to overhaul the standard approach to the design and governance of low-cost housing so it accommodates home-based work. This is often restricted or even prohibited in social housing, which is generally currently designed to models developed in the early 20th century specifically to prevent this working practice. This is short-sighted and discriminatory – social tenants have as much right to work from home as anyone else. Frances Holliss Emeritus reader in architecture, London Metropolitan University
• The current social housing crisis is an artificially created problem begun by the political dogma in the 1980 Housing Act and developed into a crisis by the political ineptitude and inertia of governments of every colour over the four decades since.
For almost the whole of that period house prices have gone up faster than wages. It takes a bear of very little brain to realise that sooner or later both house purchase and rental become unaffordable, which is, of course, exactly what has happened.
The good news is that because it is an artificially created problem, we have the ability to solve it. However, the cost has been estimated to be as much as four HS2s, while the net cost might be less than one. This sounds like a rather good deal to me, since failure to get to grips with it is going to tear at the heart of our society over the next decades. Robin Howell Bridgwater, Somerset
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.”
Developers will finally bring forward detailed plans for around 1,600 new homes which have stalled for more than 15 years.
Forth Ports’ proposals to redevelop its Western Harbour site between Leith and Newhaven passed a planning hurdle when the updated development framework was approved by councillors.
The company will now bring forward full plans by February – as original outline planning permission is due to expire next year. The framework was resubmitted due to the original masterplan for the site no longer meeting aspects of the council’s planning guidance.
The new community will include a large park, a board-walk promenade and a new school for which plans are set to come forward “in the next couple of months”. Forth Ports has submitted a funding bid to the Scottish Government for a loan to accelerate delivery of affordable housing at the waterfront site.
Charles Hammond, Forth Ports group chief executive, said: “We are pleased with the decision by City of Edinburgh Council to approve our revised design framework for Western Harbour in Leith.
“Forth Ports and Rettie & Co have been working together for over two years on these proposals that will result in the delivery of a community of 1,600 mid-market rental home and park which should also create the setting for the new primary school for the area.”
He added: “Through our other recently completed developments at Harbour Point and Harbour Gateway, we know there is a great deal of demand from people looking for these mid rent homes and an opportunity to create a community.
“Our proposal represents a major boost for the Leith economy and for Edinburgh as a whole and we now hope for a positive outcome from the Scottish Ministers on the possible loan funding for this project. Work is well underway preparing a full planning application in readiness for submission before the end of February 2019.”
Three blocks of flats on the Western harbour site have already been built in the first phase of the project – along with a hotel and an Asda supermarket.
This phase of the development won planning permission in principle in 2002 – but the renewed agreement is set to expire next year. The new flats will range from three to eight stories high and each block will have its own surrounding green space built around a park.
The city council’s development management sub-committee welcomed the revised vision for the Western Harbour.
Ward Cllr Chas Booth said the response from local residents had been “overwhelmingly positive”.
He added: “This space has laid empty for a long time and local residents are very keen to see development come forward. If the decision to go ahead with the trams is made later this year, this is highly accessible from a public transport perspective.
“This is a good application. I hope that between now and the detailed application, it can still be improved in terms of pedestrian and cycle access and in terms of the green space.” Councillors unanimously approved the revised design framework. Planning convener Cllr Neil Gardiner said:
“This allows for more creativity in future applications – that should be supported. “The larger blocks allow for better green space and I’m very happy to see that car parking is either underground or captured within the blocks – it’s not predominantly on the streets.”
Build-to-rent schemes have helped to more than double the total number of new homes registered in the capital.
The steep rise ends a period where London has been in the doldrums due to private homes for sale projects falling off as prices for one and two-bed apartments softened.
The surge in the capital helped to drive up total UK sites registered with the NHBC over the three months to August by 11%.
Soaring numbers of both private rental and to a lesser extent housing association schemes lifted house building starts by 145% to 5,774 compared with the same period a year ago.
A business development boss for one major contractor said: “Manchester and Birmingham have been the real hotspots for big build-to-rent schemes.
“While London has had its share of these project things are really taking off now in the capital with many projects out to bid.”
NHBC chief executive Steve Wood said: “We continue to see strong numbers in many parts of the UK with a substantial uplift in London, driven by increased activity by housing associations and the continued flow of inward investment on for-sale and private rental developments.
“The continuing uncertainties around Brexit and the UK’s economic outlook do not seem sufficient to dent confidence in the new homes market, where NHBC’s focus remains on helping developers to build more, high-quality homes for people across the country.”
More than 13,700 new homes were registered to be built in the UK during August, according to the latest NHBC registration figures, with strong growth in London.
Other regions to show growth over the three month trend period included Yorkshire & Humberside and the West Midlands.
Controversial plans to build up to 72 new houses in the historic Yorkshire village of Spofforth have been deferred despite Harrogate Borough Council planning officers recommending approval.
In edgy and hearfelt exchanges at a planning committee meeting (June 12), the 11-strong committee persistently resisted pressure from planning officers who claimed there was no good reason to defer the application, particularly since, at this stage, it was only being submitted in outline form.
But councillors were very concerned about the extra traffic that would be generated by the new housing estate, earmarked to be located on farm land at Massey Fold at the eastern end of Spofforth, a floral village which lies between Harrogate and Wetherby and prides itself in being mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.
The chairman of Spofforth Parish Council, Coun Shirley Fawcett, told the meeting: “The main problem is the traffic. It’s absolutely terrible.”
Meanwhile, Spofforth’s Borough councillor, Conservative Andrew Paraskos, highlighted the problems facing pedestrians; and he denied the developer’s claim that the narrow footpath along Harrogate Road – where the main entrance to the housing estate will be located – was safe.
“It’s blatantly not safe,” he said. “Pedestrians have to walk single file and you can’t get a pushchair or wheelchair along the footpath.”
According to Spofforth resident Stewart Killin, this would mean most residents would either get into their cars; or walk – but put themselves at risk.
He also highlighted other problems which would be caused if the application was approved including the impact on Spofforth’s primary school and on dental and medical services in the village.
Altogether Harrogate Council received 172 representations from Spofforth residents, all objecting to the plans and on a variety of grounds including that the proposed land was known to flood; that the site was one of potential archaeological interest; and that the northwestern corner of the site lay within Spofforth’s conservation area.
Harrogate Council’s planning department acknowledged that the application by the Ilkley-based property developer Opus North (part of real estate investment giant, Palmer Capital) would cause harm to the setting of the village and some ecological damage, but argued that this would be “limited” and that any impact would be “adequately mitigated.”
The planners also felt such considerations were outweighed by the benefits offered by the new housing estate. These included providing additional housing to meet the needs of the Harrogate district. Plus the financial contribution promised by the developer towards the maintenance and enhancement of Spofforth’s existing facilities and services.
Opus North had already amended its original planning application, reducing the number of proposed houses from 84 to a maximum of 72.
Ignoring the advice of planning officials, councillors unanimously backed the suggestion by Coun Robert Windass (Con, Boroughbridge) that any decision should be deferred until after the committee had been given the opportunity to closely question a representative of North Yorkshire County Council’s highways department about safe access to and from the proposed estate.
It was also suggested that an official from the County Council’s education department should be present to spell out exactly what impact the new housing development would have on Spofforth’s primary school; whether an extension would have to be built – or children forced to travel elsewhere.
It was agreed that the meeting with County County officials should be arranged as quickly as possible.