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The ARCH annual report for 2015-16 is now available to view.

 

Download it here.

Prime Minister pledges £140million to transform 100 “sink estates” 15/01/2016

On 10 January 2016, the Prime Minister announced that "some of the country's worst housing estates will be removed and replaced with safe and attractive homes for residents". Key elements of the announcement are:

 

  • A new £140million fund is to be established to pump prime regeneration of the 100 worst housing estates across the country but much will depend on bringing in private finance (institutional investment/cross subsidy by building for sale/opening up land for development etc.)
  • The government will identify and work with 100 housing estates across the country "to radically transform them or in the worst cases knock them down and replace with high quality homes"
  • A new Estate Regeneration Advisory Panel is to be set up chaired by Lord Heseltine and the Panel is to report in detail by this year's autumn statement
  • The Panel will also be tasked with establishing a set of binding guarantees for tenants and homeowners currently living on these estates so that they are protected
  • The government's mission is "social turnaround, massive estate regeneration, tenants protected and land unlocked for new housing based on a comprehensive approach to estate regeneration" with the Prime Minister saying: "I believe we can tear down anything that stands in our way"
  • The initiative is based on a Savills Research Report commissioned by the Cabinet Office: "Completing London's Streets" which looks at how the regeneration and intensification of housing estates could increase London's supply of homes and benefit residents. The report makes the case that new developments of "complete streets" cost less to build than conventional estate renewal
  • The Savills Report looks only at the London housing market and the Prime Minister in announcing the initiative, in an article for the Sunday Times, acknowledges that "regeneration will work best in areas where land values are high, because new private homes, built attractively and at a higher density, will fund the regeneration of the rest of the estate".

 

A copy of the announcement can be found on the DCLG website and the text of the Prime Minister's article in the Sunday Times can be read here.

 

ARCH comments that any additional resources to support the regeneration of poorly designed council housing estates is to be very much welcomed and there are some excellent examples of innovative work by stock retained councils and almos in regenerating poorly designed high rise housing estates built in the 60's and 70's; however:

 

  • £140million will not go very far when shared between 100 estates and 100,000 residents - certainly not for the radical regeneration proposed
  • It's not clear if this is government money will be in the form of grant or additional borrowing approval or indeed whether it will be paid to the local authority or to any private sector investor/developer involved in the regeneration
  • There is no mention in the announcement of the role of council landlords in the decisions about these estates except that the Prime Minister refers to"a raft of pointless planning rules, local politics and tenants' concerns about whether regeneration would be done fairly"having prevented progress in regenerating such estates. However the Government intend to develop a new Estates Regeneration Strategy that "will sweep away the planning blockages and take steps to reduce political and reputational risk for projects' key decision makers and investors"
  • The 100 worst estates are not named but the Government (probably through the proposed new Estate Regeneration Advisory Panel) will identify the 100 "worst estates" to benefit from this programme
  • It's clear the programme will depend heavily on private finance and building for sale on public land currently occupied by these estates.

 

The Savills Research report, on which the programme is based, focusses entirely on London and London property market and ARCH has concerns about whether this model will work in lower value areas across the country. The basis of the Savills report is broadly that:

 

  • There is opportunity to extract value out of poorly designed London housing estates and an opportunity to "intensify" the housing density from the current typical average of 78 homes per hectare to 135 homes per hectare using the proposed "complete streets" model rather than "contemporary regeneration" models
  • There are approximately 1750 hectares of existing public housing & land (in London) that might be capable of this type of regeneration with the potential to provide an additional 54,000 to 360,000 additional homes
  • Public land would be vested as equity through some form of public/private partnership
  • All existing social rented housing on a site would be re-provided as social housing under the regeneration
  • Report states it's unlikely that simply relying on council departments alone will achieve the level of delivery and regeneration now required but that council landowners, developers, investors and residents can align and share on long-term development and ownership models which entail ongoing stewardship and management of the new places that are created.

 

View Savills' report on "Completing London's Streets".

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