Have a look at our June 2017 edition of The Source.
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Have Housing Associations Become Developers?
Housing consultant, blogger and occasional Guardian columnist, Steve Hilditch has recently claimed that some housing associations “have become developers first and foremost.” However, if their mission has always been to build homes for people in need, is it right to accuse them of losing their purpose by building homes?
Embargo Where No Car Go
Wealden District Council’s embargo on new traffic-generating development, introduced in April, has taken the development industry and neighbouring authorities by surprise, by seeking to protect the 2,279-hectare Ashdown Forest special area of conservation (SAC), originally with a 7km exclusion zone, later increased to 15km and now to 25km.
The SAC was first introduced in 2012, in conjunction with Natural England, alongside information on its purpose and the proposed mitigation measures (usually Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace – SANGs) for new development.
House Prices Fall For A Whole Quarter, According To Nationwide
For the first time since the downturn in 2009, UK house prices have fallen for three consecutive months, March, April and May, according to the Nationwide.
Prices dropped by 0.3%, 0.4% and 0.2% over the three months respectively. This brought annual house price growth down from an average of between 4.3% and 5.7% over the previous year to just 2.1% in the year to May – the slowest paced growth for almost four years.
Will Naked Homes Help Solve The London Housing Crisis?
As house prices soar, London’s mayor Sadiq Khan has plans to subsidise a new generation of “naked” homes that will sell for up to 40% less than standard new
builds, with a price tag of between £150,000 – £340,000, in reach for buyers on average incomes in a city where the average home now costs £580,000.
Latest news from the sector
Latest news from the sector
Fixing the broken housing market needs housebuilders of all sizes
The housing market is ruled by volume housebuilders and this dominance must be reduced to “help fix the broken housing market,” concludes a report from the Communities and Local Government Committee following an inquiry it launched last year into housebuilding capacity.
In the report, the committee calls for a more competitive housing market, claiming that the 8 largest housebuilders build more than half of all new homes in the country. It urges the government to support SME builders and improve access to land and finance for them, as well as reduce risks for builders by providing planning permissions and infrastructure for sites.
The MPs of the committee suggest learning from the German model of financial support for SMEs, which uses a state-owned development bank offering low rates to customers. The report also asks for increased building by local authorities and
housing associations, which it says will help protect the industry against downturns.
And the committee would like to see the government more actively support modern methods of construction, including sponsoring a “single, recognised quality assurance mark to give lenders, builders and consumers’ confidence”. The report
also highlights the skills gap with the need for the government to produce solid proposals, particularly on improving further education paths into the construction industry.
Clive Betts MP, chair of the CLG Committee, said: “The housing market is broken, we are simply not building enough homes. Smaller builders are in decline and the sector is over reliant on an alarmingly small number of high volume developers.”
Stewart Baseley, HBF’s executive chairman, said that larger firms were generally better equipped to deal with the
challenges of building and could spread risks. But he added: “We fully support the committee’s call for measures to assist smaller builders, encourage new entrants and scale up specialist housing sectors, such as the retirement housing market.
“The vast majority of the big increases in housing supply in recent years have come from the larger, mainstream builders-
but we need more builders of all sizes and specialisms if we are to tackle our acute housing shortage.”
The benefits of buying a new home
According to new research by the Home Builders Federation, the price of choosing
a second hand home over new build could be as much as £50,000.
Launched alongside the start of New Homes Week, the report, ‘Avoid the money pit– the cost of upgrading old to new’, (http://www.hbf.co.uk/?eID=dam_frontend_push&docID=25645&filename=Why_buy_new_-_Avoid_the_money_pit_-NHW17.pdf) highlights the advantages for consumers of buying new and reveals that upgrading a second hand home to the same standard of functionality and finish as a new property could become this costly.
The research looks at the work that might be necessary to refurbish an older property, breaking down the possible costs, with a consumer typically paying out £7,900 for buying and fitting a new kitchen, £3,800
for a new bathroom, £8,850 to rewire a home and £6,185 for installing central heating, as well as other outlays.
HBF’s research finds further savings from buying new, including a new home’s inherent energy efficiency meaning that 94% of homes built in 2016 achieve an energy efficiency rating of A to C. According to the research, only 26% of second hand homes reach these standards.
HBF’s executive chairman, Stewart Baseley, said: “This report helps to highlight the hidden savings that buyers of new build homes make. Buyers of new build homes enjoy a huge number of benefits over those purchasing a second hand home. Upon moving into a property that is designed for modern living, there are all the advantages of living in a home with brand new fixtures and fittings and the latest energy efficiency technologies.“
Good performances continues across the field
Linden Homes has built on its strong first half performance, with good trading conditions continuing, achieving a sales rate of 0.75 unit sales per outlet per week against 0.73 in the prior period and 0.56 in H1 2017.
Linden is entering the final months of its financial year with a strong order book; sales reserved, exchanged or completed stand at £1,128 million, with £893 million relating to the current year (2016: £1,071 million; £813 million respectively).
The company’s statement read; “The business is making good progress towards its strategic priorities, driving volume growth and margin improvement, helped by increased product standardisation and operational efficiencies.”
Similarly, northern housebuilder, Avant Homes, hopes to reach its target of delivering 2,000 homes per year within the next two to three years, Colin Lewis, CEO said this month. Issuing an update on trading for the year ending April 30 2017, Avant said its “excellent trading performance” was expected to yield record revenues and profits.
Total completions rose 35% to 1,636 against 2016, with private completions increasing 31% to 1,406. Avant’s underlying private ASP lifted to £252,000 from 2016’s £242,000. Completions and the private ASP drove a revenue increase of 44% to
£368 million. Avant’s sales per site per week were 0.81 against last year’s 0.65. Outlets rose from 32 to 52 and the company begins its new financial year with 75% of its H1 volumes forward sold.
Interesting Appeal Decisions
At Gladman, we monitor all residential appeal decisions issued by the Planning Inspectorate, to better understand current interpretations of government planning policy.
Inspector R W Allen allowed an appeal for up to 74 dwellings made by Persimmon Homes (Yorkshire) Ltd in Harrogate. The inspector outlined that the Council agreed with the appellant that a 5-year housing land supply could not be demonstrated and therefore subsequent policies were out of date. The inspector concluded that the appellant’s evidence coupled with the Council’s inability to put together an up to date air quality action plan for managing development, meant that there wasn’t a conflict with policy nor should it therefore be a reason to refuse permission. Neither the Council nor Natural England raised any concerns or objections to the proposed development on the SSSI or on great crested newts, and there was insufficient evidence to suggest any harm to ecology would be caused. Therefore, overall the inspector allowed the appeal.
Inspector Jason Whitfield has dismissed an appeal for 24 dwellings in Hensall, Selby. Hensall is within a tier, which is allocated limited development within the settlement boundaries. However, due to the lack of a five year land supply,
the Inspector gives this little weight. The site is well contained and would promote a sustainable pattern of development. However, the proposal makes no contribution towards the 40% affordable housing requirement. Despite the Appellant indicating the development would provide for affordable housing, the Inspector saw no indication as to the extent that would be provided and concluded that this outweighed the benefits of the development.
Inspector Jonathan Parsons has dismissed an appeal for 12 dwellings in Hemel Hempstead within Dacorum Borough Council. The Inspector notes that development is encouraged in this area; however, the design would result in a dominant urban development, which is out of keeping with the design on the current housing in the area. There would be little space for future landscaping to replace vegetation that would need to be removed. The development would contribute to affordable housing; however, this does not outweigh the harm to the character and appearance of the area and therefore, the appeal was dismissed.
Inspector Joanne Burston has allowed an appeal for 14 bungalows in Clacton-on-Sea, Tendring. Although the site lies outside the settlement boundary, this is considered out of date due to the lack of a five year supply and the policies expiring in 2011. The Council argued development would be premature due to the site being allocated in the emerging Local Plan however, the Inspector states that the proposed development is only a small parcel of the allocation and the emerging Local Plan is not at an advanced stage. The Inspector noted that the site would encroach on rural landscape although the area is not ‘valued’ and there would be minor visual impacts due to the proposed planting and landscaping. The inspector gives weight to the social and economic benefits the appeal site would bring and therefore, the appeal was allowed.
Redressing Housing Under-Supply Not Required In Unsustainable Location Where Rural Facilities Aren’t Struggling
An appeal for 36 dwellings in South Cambridgeshire has been dismissed. The site was located in Guilden Morden, defined
as a “group village” in the Core Strategy, where a maximum of 8 dwellings on greenfield sites would be allowed. The Council does not dispute a lack of 5 year housing land supply, meaning housing policies should not be considered up to date. The Inspector continued that there would be minor impact on the environment and heritage assets near the site but stated that this was a case hinging on the proximity and accessibility of facilities in the settlement. While the Parish Council were in favour of the scheme claiming that the development would support facilities in the settlement, the Inspector argued there was no evidence in front of him to suggest that the services were struggling and in need of the development. The Inspector noted that there were limited facilities in the settlement and that new residents would have to travel for the simplest of amenities and that without a frequent bus service almost all journeys would be made by private vehicle. The Inspector concluded that the site was not in a sustainable location and thus did not meet the requirements to be sustainable development and dismissed the appeal.
Inspector Acknowledges Policy Outweighed By Agreed Housing Undersupply But Dismisses On Heritage Impact
Inspector G D Jones has dismissed an appeal for 16 dwellings in Ticehurst, Rother District Council. The Inspector and the council share the view that Rother District Council currently have a 3.9 Year Supply, therefore, the contribution to housing delivery that this development would provide was the key planning benefit considered in this appeal. However, the Inspector stated that the development would cause harm to the character and appearance of the area, have an adverse impact on listed buildings and would therefore amount to unsustainable development. Ultimately, the refusal came down to the impact on listed buildings, despite the Inspector stating that the contribution to housing delivery would have outweighed other policy breaches.
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