ARCH decided to combine its AGM with a seminar on an issue most
members are thinking about just now - restarting a council new
build programme. For some it is the first time in 30 years they
have considered building new council homes rather than relying on
housing associations to provide new social housing in their
areas. But now the pendulum has swung; grant for housing
association new development is in short supply, while
self-financing gives councils new opportunities including the
chance for many to build again.
Councils deciding to build again will need to rebuild the
organisational capacity to oversee a newbuild programme.
There is no shortage of people with the skills that are needed - if
only because cutbacks in housing association development activity
and the depressed state of the construction industry generally
leaves plenty of skilled professionals with time on their
hands. And a significant minority of councils have already
dipped their toes in the newbuild water with assistance from the
While each council faces particular issues and challenges and
needs to evolve its own approach, there are plenty of common issues
where it should maks sense for councils to work together or learn
from each other.
The ARCH seminar provided a first opportunity for councils to
get together to share their thinking and participants said they
found it valuable. Now we are thinking about the next steps -
what would be of most help to member councils grappling with this
Your ideas would be very welcome.