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Truly Affordable Housing Strategy part three, areas for further review

Published: 7 December 2022

Faced with this uncertainty the council needs to build on the positive progress so far to develop a comprehensive, council-wide strategy to deliver as many genuinely affordable homes as is possible.

There is no ‘silver bullet’: we need to look at all options to see how many additional affordable homes can be squeezed out of each.

Areas for further review in developing this strategy include:

A longer-term look at the opportunities available to the council to develop more homes on its own land and through acquisitions to get maximum benefit from all the available resources (Housing Revenue Account, General Fund, Affordable Housing Fund, and other sources) and setting the financial strategy to support housing investment. Across London the General Fund is an increasingly important funding source, especially to meet the need for better quality temporary accommodation.

A review of delivery mechanisms, staffing resources, the role of Westminster Builds and Westminster Community Homes to ensure delivery is not held back by capacity issues. Most councils in London have wholly-owned companies but their roles vary widely.

A review of the housing elements of the City Plan and related documents to try to secure more social housing from planning gain arising from private development in the city. This will bring Westminster more into line with practice elsewhere in London. Homes delivered via Section 106 can be an important element in supply, although the scale of private development in highly unpredictable at present.

A review of the contribution that can be made by registered providers, predominantly housing associations, who have had a strong track record of providing affordable homes in the city but have been less engaged in recent years as they have chosen to develop in areas of London with lower costs.

Assisting the council in its proposed review of allocations policy to ensure that the best possible use is made of the available housing stock. We also want to see a review of the lettings policy for intermediate rent homes to make it an effective key worker housing scheme.

Looking long term and in more detail at the likely availability of land in the City, the appetite for private investment in new housebuilding which in turn will create opportunities for the Council and how the council can take opportunities to buy land to create a pipeline.

Identifying opportunities to accelerate delivery through smart approaches to procurement and taking advantage of developments in modular construction.

Conclusion

Delivering the council’s aim to expand the delivery of ‘truly affordable’ homes has made a strong start. Many more areas of policy need to be reviewed with the Housing Review’s assistance. The context in which the council is operating, however, is highly volatile, with inflation and interest rate rises and increased instability in the economy directly affecting its ability to provide desperately needed homes.

Read the Truly Affordable Housing Strategy