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  5. 17 June 2010
  6. Housing chief sounds alarm over affordable housing

Housing chief sounds alarm over affordable housing

Affordable house building is in danger of grinding to a halt this year, the National Housing Federation has warned.

It has claimed that changes to the planning system and threatened spending cuts could see the number of social homes built this year slump by nearly two thirds, to just 20,300.

However, the Homes and Communities Agency has just reported that it has exceeded its end-of-year housing targets by achieving 56,118 completions and 64,811 starts on site during the financial year 2009-10, an increase on the targets of 52,325 and 53,315 respectively.

Chief executive Sir Bob Kerslake said: “Whatever the outcome of next week’s Budget it is clear that with less public funding available to support housing we will need to focus our efforts where they have most impact at local level and drive value for money in key areas such as affordable housing.”

London mayor Boris Johnson has called on ministers to safeguard investment in social housing after revealing he is more than halfway towards delivering 50,000 affordable homes, a record number for Londoners, by 2012 despite challenging economic conditions.

The mayor, who has now delivered 26,014 affordable homes over the past two years, has stressed he believes it is more crucial than ever that investment continues in high quality, good value affordable housing, especially family-sized social rented housing to tackle overcrowding.

Meanwhile, in a related development a new study has signalled that the public is more supportive of new housing developments in their area than commonly thought.

According to the Public Attitudes to Housing survey, published by the National Housing and Planning Advisory Unit (NHPAU), more than three quarters of people would support more homes being built in their area, provided that local services such as GP surgeries and schools do not suffer.

Good quality housing design is also important to people, with 73 per cent saying they would support the building of more homes if well designed and in keeping with their local area.

Housing minister Grant Shapps has outlined his plans to introduce incentives for local communities to give the green light to new developments, while at the same time ensuring local services are able to meet the community's needs.

“If we are really serious about supporting people's aspirations for home ownership, the real prize is we must build more homes. For the first time incentives will create direct benefits for local communities, bringing jobs, investment and more homes for local people. Rather than being told what to build and where, residents of villages, towns and cities will be able to develop their own vision for their place," he said.

 

Roger Milne

17 June 2010