Category Archives: Housebuilding

Government to miss 2020 housing target

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You’ll never guess what: the government is likely to miss its 2020 housing targets. Who would’ve imagined such a thing?

According to the National Audit Office (NAO), the current regime’s aims will probably be missed by at least five years because the sale of public land won’t have released enough space to meet even half of the target of 160,000 homes.

The NAO’s report shows that space for only 65,000 homes is likely to be available by 2020, with the full 160,000 only achievable after 2025.

Would you believe that the government had ‘no supporting documentation or economic evidence’ when it set its target in 2016 and that it is yet to publish ‘any information on new homes built’?

Meg Hillier MP, chairwoman of Westminster’s Public Accounts Committee, isn’t best pleased about the revelations. She said: ‘Not only is its programme highly unlikely to meet its target by 2020, it is also unable to provide basic information about the number of affordable homes, and homes for key workers, being built.

‘It is also unacceptable that the government does not have a national picture of where the proceeds from the land sales have gone.’

 

Social housing ‘attracts drugs and other illegal activities’ leaflet claims

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An interesting leaflet has appeared in a corner of Kent in relation to a proposed social housing development.

The missive’s alarmed authors challenge residents to take a stance against the 60-flat scheme in Gravesend, and claim that ‘social housing traditionally attracts drugs and other illegal activities’.

Signed ‘Your local parish council’, the leaflet urges readers to ‘please act now!’ and asks if they want ‘unsavoury characters walking past your homes and into your neighbourhood and schools’.

The leaflet – which is entirely in uppercase, perhaps demonstrating the fury/fear/urgency the writers feel – also claims that the development risks a ‘devaluation of your property’ and a ‘rise in crime as residents will be rehoused from London and surrounding suburbs bringing with them gangs and knife crime’.

Additionally, the flyer warns that the 60 new builds will bring 200+ cars with them, which is about 3.33 cars per home – a ‘stat’ I didn’t know about social housing tenants, or perhaps the authors based the figure on projected drug dealing proceeds?

According to Gravesham Borough Council’s planning portal, the development Lodge Valley Drive comprises the ‘Demolition of existing house and outbuildings and erection of a part four storey and part three storey building for the residential development of 20no. one bedroom, 41no. two bedroom and 3no. three bedroom apartments with associated car parking’.

Though credited to the parish council, the word on Twitter is that it’s not, thankfully, their work – and I couldn’t get through when I tried to ring them so that’ll have to do for the time being.

 

L&Q and THT talk takeover

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A big housing association is having talks about taking over a not quite as big housing association.

London-based L&Q has announced that it’s holding talks with Manchester-based Trafford Housing Trust (THT) around a possible acquisition.

If all goes according to plan, L&Q will acquire THT’s 9,000-home stock, adding to its already impressive collection of 90,000 properties.

With most of its homes existing in London and the South East, the THT takeover would give L&Q a strong foothold in the north.

Subject to due diligence, naturally, both HAs hope the deal will be completed in June, just in time for the summer. Tenants and other stakeholders will be consulted, and a five-year business plan will be developed.

According to L&Q and THT, the deal will unlock £4 billion of investment in the North West and see 20,000 new homes built over the next 10 years, half of which will be ‘affordable’, which is clearly not to be sniffed at.

L&Q’s group chief executive, David Montague, seems pleased with the way things are going: ‘L&Q has an ambitious plan to build 100,000 quality new homes over the next 10 years to tackle the national housing crisis. We see THT as a gateway to the North West, an area of outstanding growth that needs more high quality, affordable homes.’

Larry Gold, meanwhile, THT’s acting chief executive, said: ‘This is a unique creation that will be built on true partnership and the strength of our vision, and the people who will deliver it.

‘As part of L&Q, we’ll create significant social impact in the North West at scale and pace and strive to find solutions to the national housing crisis. We will deliver an extensive programme of new development and regeneration projects, as well as improving homes and services for our existing customers.’

And the two providers have history: a joint venture partnership launched in April 2017 has led to 679 new build starts with a further 1,493 planned.

Developers anti-bird nest nets coming under flak

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If you’ve been looking at things while you walk/drive around over the last few years, you’ve probably become aware of hedges and trees being contained in netting.

No, it’s not to stop the flora in question getting away – it’s actually designed to stop birds nesting so developers can tear said vegetation out without getting into trouble.

Horrible, really, and it may be coming to an end – if environmentalists have their way.

According to grassroots campaigners, the unpleasant practice has escalated enormously this spring – which in turn is being driven by a 78% rise in housebuilding.

The nets, in theory, stop birds nesting, which means developers can’t be prosecuted for destroying nests when they destroy hedgerows.

However, the practice has been noticed by the keen-eyed – and campaigners have filmed birds and other animals trapped within the netting on some sites.

And here’s a disturbing fact: the UK has lost 120,000 miles of hedgerow since the 1950s.

Not unsurprisingly, some have been moved to take down netting when they come across it, with one Twitter user enthusing that all you need is a ‘sharp Stanley knife’.

David Savage, of the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, removed netting from hedgerows near a nature reserve in Wingerworth. He said: ‘It has gone crazy this year. There seem to be more and more nets being used.

‘I would like to see it banned altogether; it is completely unnecessary. It really does feel like nature is an inconvenience to developers that needs to be sorted out, and meanwhile we are losing species at a dramatic rate. We need new legislation which is better and more fit for purpose on this.’

In a joint statement, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management, and Natural England said: ‘Netting is an overly simplistic approach that has become more prominent recently. There is an understandable negative reaction from both the public and from professional ecologists to the real and potential harm that it may cause to wildlife.’

Have you seen this netting in action in your area? Have you been inspired to take action? Let us know in the comments section.

 

Coming soon: Two major London housing communities

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Following a few housing-related bits and pieces announced in yesterday’s Spring Statement, the government has today revealed some more housebuilding news.

According to communities secretary James Brokenshire, two major housing communities will be built in London alongside new railway stations.

The good old government has pledged £250 million to put towards the construction of up to 13,000 homes near the new HS2 railway station at Old Oak Common, East Acton.

And another £320m is to be spent on a new community of 7,500 properties next to Brent Cross West Thameslink station, MP Brokenshire reckons.

Talking of which, the communities secretary said: ‘We are working to create homes, opportunities and thriving communities, especially in London which faces the most severe and unique housing pressures in the country.

‘The HS2 station at Old Oak Common will offer a new gateway to London, while a new station in Brent Cross can be the catalyst to build thousands more much-needed homes.

‘Together, this £570m package of investments will allow thousands of families the opportunity to realise their dreams of home ownership. It will provide up to 20,000 new homes, support new jobs and benefit from new transport infrastructure.’

The government believes Old Oak Common’s new station will ‘transform the area into a vibrant community, supporting up to 65,000 jobs’. Beleaguered HS2 Ltd has been told to get the station open by 2026, which seems quite a challenge.

As ever, here’s the link to the government’s press release concerning these revelations.

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