THE North of England is to gain a multi-million-pound injection of funding to deliver thousands of new homes across the region.
Great Places Housing Group and Home Group are part of a new strategic partnership announced by Homes England, which takes in six other housing associations in the midlands and the south.
In total, Homes England is to provide a funding package of just under £590 million through to March 2022 to support the first wave of strategic partnerships with: emh group; Great Places; Home Group; Hyde; L&Q; Matrix Partnership; Places for People; and Sovereign/Liverty.
For its part, Great Places will be able to spend nearly £30 million in grant money to build an extra 750 homes. This comes on top of a £400 million spend that the organisation says will see 2,800 new homes built up to March 2022. It is claimed this includes over 2,300 new “affordable” homes.
“It is fantastic news for the business and for the housing sector in general,” said Matthew Harrison, Great Places’ chief executive. “Providing affordable housing for people in need is a serious challenge and one that we are committed to. We recently launched our corporate plan, where we set out our ambitions for next 10 years. One of those ambitions is to build 8,000 new homes over the next decade and this landmark partnership with Homes England will go some way to help us achieve that target.”
Home Group, meanwhile, said its aim as part of the partnership is to “focus its efforts on creating a new way of working” so that it can build “over and above” its existing plans to build 10,000 new homes by 2022. Under the deal, the organisation has £85 million to play with to deliver an additional 2,300 new homes.
“This is a great day for the housing sector,” Home Group’s chief executive, Mark Henderson said. “In order to get this right for the whole sector, it’s really important that everyone can get involved and we are committed to working with other, smaller housing associations and private developers to bring them along the journey with us.”
Nationally, the first wave of this new partnership approach is expected to deliver 14,280 additional “affordable” homes by March 2022. The deals include homes for social rent in areas of high affordability pressure, Homes England said; with the funding available boosted by the Government’s announcement of an additional £1.67 billion for the £9 billion affordable homes programme.
This new approach, it is claimed, will also boost the wider supply contribution from the sector, with the eight partners signing up to deliver more than 23,500 additional homes across all tenures, including for market sale.
“There is no mission more urgent than making our housing market work, and we are investing £9 billion in building affordable homes,” said communities secretary James Brokenshire MP. “This £590 million fund we are giving Homes England will help housing associations accelerate the delivery of affordable properties communities need.”
Nick Walkley, Homes England’s chief executive, added: “When we launched Homes England, I called on housing associations to work with us to develop ambitious strategic partnerships that would help them to get on and build significantly more affordable homes than they were previously planning. After a huge amount of hard work, these new deals show our real determination to combine ambition, flexibilities and the full range of our resources to change the way we deliver affordable homes.
“This is a very important day for us but we have no intention to stop here. Over the summer, we will work to expand the eight deals to become even more ambitious while agreeing a second wave of strategic partnerships with other ambitious housing associations. This is a fantastic opportunity for the sector to up its game and get more affordable homes built more quickly.”
A project group consisting of the National Housing Federation (NHF) and the Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government was established to understand the barriers to delivery, form a new relationship with Homes England, and design a revised investment framework to increase delivery of new housing supply through new ways of working.
“We are delighted to have worked in close partnership with Homes England on this new approach to investing in affordable housing, which will support housing associations’ vital work to help solve the housing crisis,” said David Orr, the NHF’s chief executive.
“These strategic partnerships give ambitious housing associations the investment and flexibility they need to help increase the supply of new homes. We have been clear for many years that this will be a huge help in increasing delivery, and these partnerships are a testament to housing associations’ determination to build many more new homes.”
The eight housing associations have all committed to significant increases in their development programmes, in exchange for an additional year’s funding beyond the current spending review settlement and the ability to use their funding flexibly across their development programme in response to the ebb and flow of progress on individual sites.
They will also be able to respond to local markets by determining the tenure of affordable homes as they near completion on individual sites, by managing the overall tenure balance through the oversight of a Strategic Partnership Board with Homes England.