Council agrees 50/50 joint venture to deliver 100s of low-cost homes
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Development, Housing
Hammersmith & Fulham Council has agreed a 50/50 joint venture deal with developer Stanhope Plc to build hundreds of new low-cost and family homes over the next 15 years.
The contract will begin with the creation of more than 300 homes across the borough over the next three years, of which an estimated 40% will be 'affordable' intermediate housing sold at a discounted market rate to help local people get on the housing ladder.
Two council-owned vacant residential sites in Fulham have already been identified as opportunities to create new homes for the first phase of the joint venture - Watermeadow Court Estate and Edith Summerskill House.
The two sites have been empty for many years after being declared unfit for purpose and proving too costly to maintain.
On the two sites, roughly double the original number of homes will be re-provided.
The council says that one third of the discounted market sale housing will be reserved for families on incomes of up to £30,000pa; one third will be made 'affordable' for those with incomes of up to £40,000pa; and the remainder will be 'affordable' for those with incomes up to the Mayor of London’s official affordable housing limit of £80,000.
By entering into a joint venture with a private developer, the council is able to benefit from private sector expertise, whilst retaining greater control over what the land is used for and make its housing assets work much harder.
Any proceeds made by the council will be ploughed back into even more low cost housing for local residents.
In addition, the council claims that the joint venture will prevent ‘land-banking’ by developers, which can be the outcome with the traditional kind of disposal arrangements.
The vast majority of existing social housing tenants will not be affected. However, where future opportunities to build new homes occur, the council is committed to ensuring that there is no net loss of existing social housing provision and that current secure council tenants will remain secure council tenants.
Social tenants who are on the Home Buy register and live on adjacent estates will have the first opportunity to buy the new discount market sale properties.
The borough’s cabinet member for housing, Cllr Andrew Johnson, said: “We’ve carefully considered how best to use our land assets more proactively – and firmly believe that joint ventures such as this can accelerate release of public land to help drive forward development, housing supply and economic growth.
“As well as delivering more than 100 low-cost-homes to buy, this partnership will also enable the council to ensure that the proceeds are ploughed back into similar schemes, estate improvements and reducing our £200million of housing debt.”
Critics of the joint venture disagree with the approach, saying that social housing should not be replaced by homes for market sale."
Approximately 31% of homes in the borough are social rented – well above the London average. However, less than 2% of the borough's housing is 'affordable' low-cost home-ownership meaning that it is almost impossible for young people to get onto the property ladder unless they are earning a large salary or are sitting on a large inheritance, the council says.