During the early months of this new year, ARCH has
two major opportunities to show what councils can do to help secure
housing growth, and what changes in national policy and legislation
would help them do more.
At a meeting of CLG's Housing Sounding Board in November, ARCH,
among others, was invited to say what more could be done "to
promote councils' interest in housing growth, either in
relationship to new proposals or building on existing
And in December, Labour launched a Housing Commission, under the
leadership of Sir Michael Lyons, to "draw up a road map that will
set out changes to housing and planning policies and practice that
are required to deliver the new homes and communities we need".
Initial submissions have been invited by 28
Work has begun on responses to these two invitations, and the ARCH
Seminar and Executive meetings in Birmingham on 20
January will provide opportunities for all ARCH members to
help shape our submissions.
The Seminar is open to all ARCH members and will consider what
changes to current policy would do most to help councils stimulate
more new housebuilding, both for sale and for social or market
rent. Later in the day, the ARCH Executive will reflect on the
points made in the Seminar in deciding what should be included in
Commission has asked for answers to 5 key questions, which
provide a useful framework for organising discussion of the main
issues. They are:
1. The land market - how do we get much more
residential land to market and what are the best mechanisms to
2. Investment in housing and associated
infrastructure - what flexibilities through the HRA and in other
areas could be granted to local authorities so they can build more
homes? What are the barriers to greater private investment,
particularly long-term investment?
3. The role of a new generation of New Towns and
4. A new Right to Grow - how can we ensure that
local authorities that want to expand, but do not have the land on
which to grant planning permission without cooperation from a
neighbour, are able to do so?
5. Sharing the benefits of local development with
local communities - how can we ensure that a larger share of the
windfall gains from planning permission goes to local
Clearly, ARCH will want to reiterate the arguments we have made
before for the abolition of debt caps to allow councils to invest
to their full capacity in the provision of new homes.
But our argument now needs to be widened to show how councils
which have retained their stock can use the financial strength of
the HRA to underpin intervention in wider housing markets, to
unlock land for development and support partnerships for the
construction of homes to meet need in all tenures.
ARCH members have the unique advantage of combining in one
organisation the role of the strategic and planning authority with
that of a major social landlord. We will also want to show what
benefits this arrangement brings to solving the problem of housing