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New study shows councils’ appetite to build 04/01/2018 Labelled as Development, Finance

A new study by Professor Janice Morphet and Dr Ben Clifford of the Bartlett School of Planning, University of London found that 91% of councils in England - of all political leaning and size, are engaged in providing homes in some form or another.


The Local Authority Direct Provision of Housing study, sponsored by the RTPI and the National Planning Forum, found that many councils are embarking on major plans in delivering hundreds of new homes through a mix of traditional social housing programmes (managed under the HRA) and other funding and delivery routes.


These include setting up housing companies; purchase on the open market; creating land banks and land funds as long-term investors; acting as estate agency of their own commercial and residential properties; partnership developments including joint ventures with the private sector; and councils' in-house team acting as a developer.


The report reinforces the findings of an earlier report by the Smith Institute that housing companies are emerging as a popular vehicle for councils to deliver more homes or seek income from property portfolios to fund other essential services. This researched showed that around 44% of councils have a housing company, with more than 30 being established in 2017 alone.


Over half of authorities who responded to the study's online survey cited the lack of land as the biggest barrier to delivering homes, along with financing issues such as the HRA borrowing cap. 


The report draws on case studies from a number of ARCH member councils including Bournemouth BC, North Kesteven DC and Babergh & Mid-Suffolk Councils.


Read the full report

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