For several months the
Housing Minister Grant Shapps has talked about a number of initiatives which he hopes will stimulate growth in the sector. The freeing up of local government land is a positive move to give a basis for new development. The attempt to reduce planning restrictions and burocracy is another attempt to encourage development.
Whilst all of these initiatives are encouraging, the reality is there has been little movement in increased development. Demand remains high, so where does the problem lie?
I believe the issue is lack of funds. The private sector is keen to work with registered landlords to deliver schemes, however they still face the challenge of raising funds via traditional banking as
Currently, RSLs are waiting for the Government’s announcement of grant allocations for future development, which has led to a lack of activity from them. Ministerial sign off for these budgets is scheduled for July 19th with notification of budgetary content on July 20th, which will hopefully lead to RSLs embracing the Government’s proposition of affordable rents, as Housing Associations will know what their allocation is, and will be more comfortable with undertaking meaningful action.
Most RSLs are very positive about their submissions and there are few who believe they will not get a positive settlement. Clearly this can’t be the case and there is going to be more disappointment in the market place than celebration, as the Government has minimal funds to allocate to this sector, in itself one that holds high funding aspirations. So, by the end of July, we should begin to see a way forward and a level of clarity and understanding in this sector.
Those who have had funding allocated will be able to progress with their plans. Those who have been less successful will have to think about alternative ways forward, including making the affordable rent model work and partnering with the private sector.
New methods of delivery will need to be considered. Our Spacehus product has been in the marketplace now for six months, following two years of development. The industry has responded very well to it, however, due to lack of development, firm decisions have been few and far between. We remain optimistic that once there is clarity in the industry, there will be a steady level of enquiries where we can deliver these low cost, low energy timber frame houses to those in need currently sitting on the housing waiting list.
Rob Charlton, _space group CEO