Council Housing New Builds Reached 29 Year High In 2017/18

The government are ramping up their commitment to solving the housing crisis as more local authorities now own building and development companies than ever before.

According to a study conducted by the Royal Town Planning Institute, 78% of local authorities now own their own building company.

This has led to the most council owned homes being built in England for more than twenty-five years. In 2017/18, English local authorities built in excess of 13,000 council properties. According to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), the last time the government had got anywhere close to this figure was in 1990 when 14,020 council homes were built.

The study also revealed that 42% of the properties were affordable homes and 23% were for social accommodation use.

A clear change in perspective involves building the right property for the right person. 71% of local authorities were looking to increase the number of homes built specifically for special needs and elderly provision; a figure rising from only 42% in 2017.

Ian Tant, RTPI President, said:

“Having local authorities back as key players in the housing market is vital to tackling the housing crisis. It’s great news that they are becoming more active again, delivering a wide range of house types to meet a wide range of needs.

“But the lack of land is still a major issue. The government needs to help councils access land at the right price to develop themselves or sell to earn the income they need. Government should also consider a more direct role in increasing supply and influencing the location of housing.”

Paul Dennett, Salford City Mayor, supporter of the project, said:

“We welcome this exciting new research from RTPI which shows how local authorities like our own are delivering new homes to try and meet local needs. We have realised that it is not enough to wait for the market to deliver the homes we need to tackle homelessness, rough-sleeping and the UK’s broken housing market.

“We are using the opportunities we have as a city council to deliver more truly affordable housing. Now we need more powers and resources, especially given our infrastructure and post-industrial land challenges to help us develop a new range of targeted interventions.”

Professor Janet Morphet of the Bartlett School of Planning, University College London, said:

“More councils than ever are engaging in the direct delivery of housing, motivated by their role in housing provision, homelessness and income generation. Increasingly councils are concerned about the quality of housing being built in their areas. We have heard across the country, from all types of local authority, that councils are no longer relying on or waiting for developments to come through the planning system to provide the housing that they need and are taking action to deliver directly.”

“Councils are also beginning to manage all their work on housing provision, whether on planning delivery, or through companies, Housing Revenue Account and Joint Ventures through single cross professional teams. Council leadership is now emerging as a critical success factor.”

Will an increase in local authority owned building developers help to solve the housing crisis?

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