Manchester council looks to up its game on “affordable” housing with extra 6,400 by 2025

COUNCILLORS in Manchester are set to discuss how the council can fulfil a commitment to deliver an extra 6,400 new “affordable” homes across the city up to 2025.

The council’s economic scrutiny committee is to hear a report today that outlines how such an increase in “affordable” housing can be achieved. The report responds to policy ideas that were presented to the executive in December last year.

“Manchester has undoubtedly been in recovery for some time following the financial crash in 2008, but we hope to see a high-water mark of new affordable homes over the next two years,” said Councillor Suzanne Richards, the city council’s executive member for housing and regeneration.

“We want Manchester to be a place where our residents can live in the type of neighbourhood that they want, with sustainable, low-carbon homes and long-lasting communities. Housing is the bedrock of this, and we need to commit to delivering the homes that meet the needs of Manchester people.”

Under the proposals, the council will commit to revising the overall number of homes to be delivered in the city from 20,000 to 32,000, meeting the right mix of housing to meet expected demand between April 2015 and March 2025.

At least 6,400 of these homes will be “affordable” to Mancunians – meeting the council’s 20% affordable homes ambition for new housing delivery in the city. Furthermore, this ambition sets out new “affordable” homes should be equally split between social housing, affordable housing, and shared ownership properties.

Between April 2015 and March 2019, the council says that 1,044 new “affordable” homes were completed in the city. A further 1,061 are on track to be completed by March 2021 – with additional 969 in the pipeline (with land and funding secured) to be delivered by the same date.

According to the council, providing land it owns to support housing development will be an “important resource”. Current land assets could deliver 50% of the city’s 6,400 affordable homes target.

The council will invest in the development of new affordable homes using the city’s Housing Revenue Account (HRA), which is currently funding 19 social rented homes and 60 new Extra Care homes as part of the Brunswick PFI.

In addition to these schemes, a further £55 million will be used to fund three affordable homes projects – the North Manchester New Build project, affordable homes development in Brunswick, including an Extra Care scheme; the Silk St project in Newton Heath; and 130 social homes in Collyhurst as part of the first phase of the Northern Gateway programme – delivering 465 homes in the coming years when the funding is fully approved.

Partnership is seen as an “essential platform” for the council’s ambitions over the 10 years to March 2025. To that end, it is aiming to strengthen its existing partnerships with Homes England to maximise grant funding for home building. It also wants to further develop its “key links” to the city’s registered housing providers as delivery partners that can unlock grant funding.

The Manchester Housing Providers Partnership, which works closely with the council to help meet the city’s housing challenges, will deliver a “significant proportion” of the city’s future affordable homes, and are expected to help unlock around £380 million in development funding between 2021 and 2025.

These housing providers will also work collaboratively with the council to deliver Project 500; a proposal that will build 500 affordable homes on small sites across the city (25 homes per plot) – bringing smaller, often more difficult, sites into use.

Working directly with developers, the council says that section 106 negotiations will continue with all planning applications measured against a starting target of 20% affordable homes. Where applications do not commit to this, developers will be required to include a public viability assessment. The council says that a mechanism is now in place to review development profitability that will allow it to hold developers to account and “claw back” money if the development is more profitable than expected.

Meanwhile, the council’s Affordable Housing Fund – built up with section 106 contributions – has already invested £2.4 million into affordable housing in the city, with nearly £342,000 in the fund ready to use.

Manchester council is currently investigating the potential of Community Led Housing that allows residents to come together to lead the design and delivery of affordable new homes. The Government has begun a three-year pilot that the council expects to link into to support three trial plots in the city.

“These affordable housing targets are ambitious – as they need to be – and we will work closely with our housing partners across the city, and Homes England, to ensure we can make them a reality,” Richards added.

“Importantly for me, when the Council can use our own resources to build homes, these should be focused on delivering homes that are Local Housing Allowance or below to ensure they are accessible to those on the lowest incomes.”

NH

 

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