Examination of Witnesses(Questions 400-419)|
WEDNESDAY 30 OCTOBER 2002
400. I am sorry, was that a "yes"?
(Mr Hadden) Yes, it was but
401. It is simply seen as a bonus, not raw strategy?
(Mr Hadden) Yes.
(Dr Perry) If I can answer that, the planning system,
section 106, does not necessarily add to the total stock of social
housing. There is some research that has been published recently.
What it does is to ensure that affordable housing and social housing
is built in places where the market would not normally provide
402. It does not add to the total stock?
(Dr Perry) Not in that sense because most of it requires
social housing grant and the amount of housing that can be
403. But there is money produced by these planning
agreements which goes into social housing that would not be there
(Dr Perry) That is mostly not money, it is mainly
just the reserving of a chunk of a site for social housing units.
404. What you are telling us is that the 106s
do not work because instead of the posh housing providing sufficient
extra money to pay for some cheap housing on the site, all they
do is allocate a big space on the site and you then come along
and pay for that building through your grant regime. That is what
you are telling us, is it not?
(Dr Perry) It varies from area to area because it
depends how good a deal the local planning authority has done
with the developer but, generally speaking, we are talking about
the geography of social housing rather than net additions to the
405. You talk about how good a job can be done..
Is there a case for yourselves and housing associations getting
into this debate earlier in the process in order that they can
influence the job that is done by local authorities in these planning
(Mr Hadden) Yes, very much, and indeed our procedures
indicate that we will only be funding schemes on Section 106 sites
where the housing association involved has been involved in discussions
about the planning arrangements
406. Does it happen in many cases now?
(Mr Hadden) It varies around the country. Local authorities
have different arrangements, different
407. Do you have advice that you give to local
(Mr Hadden) Yes. We issued advice on bringing housing
and planning together.
408. How many have there been in your area?
(Mr Hadden) Local authorities are independent.
(Dr Perry) We have produced training packs for local
authorities on how to ensure that housing got into Section 106
409. What proportion of housing schemes funded
by Central Government are mixed tenure? By that, I mean there
is a mix of social housing, housing for shared ownership, mixed
(Dr Perry) In future they all will be. We now, as
a matter of principle, would not want to see any more single tenure
estates and that is where Section 106 helps as well because that
helps to get a little more diversity.
410. Is there a problem in the regulations whereby
housing associations have to bring in a private developer to do
the private sector part of the development?
(Dr Perry) No, not at all. Actually, we would like
to see more of that. What we see at the moment is that housing
associations are being brought in fairly late in the day into
a private development. Some of the bigger housing associations
are well capable of acting as lead developers themselves and bringing
in private sector partners.
411. We have received evidence from other witnesses
from housing associations that say that the present regulation
has actually made it difficult for them to do that, that the pressure
is on them and they have to work with a private developer rather
than themselves being able to develop the private sector housing.
Is that not true?
(Dr Perry) I do not think there is anything that stems
from our regulation. It is mainly a question of their own financial
strength and their own skills. There are one or two associations
that we could name who actually do act as lead developers and
are very good at it, but they are pretty big, they are pretty
sophisticated and they can do it. Not every housing association
would have the muscle to do it.
(Mr Hadden) But it is true that most schemes with
planning permission Section 106 agreements are controlled by the
developer rather than the housing association.
412. But where the case is the other way round
and the majority of the new homes are being provided by the housing
associations, why then is there often an obstacle to the housing
association actually building the houses for sale because that
does appear to be the case?
(Mr Hadden) It is not a permissible purpose for most
associations to build for outright sale.
413. So should that be changed?
(Mr Hadden) It is something that we are looking at
414. How long have you been looking at it?
(Mr Hadden) We have been looking at it over the last
year or so as we have been reviewing our low cost home ownership
policy and indeed, within the Challenge Fund, we are testing,
as I said earlier, this concept of new build for home buy and
that is almost tantamount to building for outright sale.
(Dr Perry) Some associations meet the issue by setting
up an unregistered subsidiary, so that companies which are not
regulated by the Housing Corporation can carry out commercial
building for sale development and they would keep that sealed
off from the social housing activity, but I do agree with the
implication of the question, that it would be better if we allowed
it to become part of their main purpose.
415. We have talked to previous witnesses about
some of the mistakes made in the 1960s and the 1970s, that was
in relation to prefabricated building, but also a number of mistakes
made were due to monolithic housing estates. As the Government
are planning a large home building programme, will we avoid those
mistakes and, if so, how?
(Dr Perry) We certainly will. The monolithic estates
were council estates, so were built by local authorities and therefore
the issue of mixed tenure did not arise. For the future, I think
we can say pretty categorically that any largish development built
in the future will be of mixed tenure, some houses for sale, some
for rent, some for shared ownership, and we are building that
deliberately into the kinds of schemes that we hope are going
to be approved.
(Mr Hadden) With any scheme of over 25 homes, we ask
the question, "Why is there not a mix of different types
of tenure on that estate?" There would have to be a very
good reason for us to
416. A mixture of designs and properly planned
(Dr Perry) We have something called a sustainability
toolkit and no association can get resources from us without working
with our sustainability toolkit which is intended to look at the
long-term survivability of a neighbourhood that is funded by us.
417. What about density? Are there any proposals
or are you giving any advice to associations about the density
(Dr Perry) The density issue usually comes through
the planning system and certainly the Deputy Prime Minister interviewed
in the press today has talked again about higher densities. There
is actually a relationship between higher densities and quality
of design. Some of the innovative housing associations are finding
that by radically increasing densities, they can afford very high
class architects and build to very high design standards.
418. I suppose you will have the danger in the
long term that high densities are going to lead to worsening living
conditions for people.
(Dr Perry) I think that is a debate which society
has to have in general really rather than just one for us. I think
it varies. There are situations in which high densities are quite
acceptable especially when you have the demographic shift in society
where a large proportion of people are going to be older and living
by themselves. You are going to have very high densities there.
Families with two or three children might not be such a good idea.
I was in Amsterdam recently and 87 per cent of all families in
Amsterdam live in rented flats.
419. That would mean that you are going to be
separating people out. You would have all the elderly people living
in high densities in one area of the region and all the families
living in another area whereas the conventional thing is that
we ought to have a mixture.
(Dr Perry) I think you are assuming that there will
only be high density developments and there will be low density
developments and I think the implication of what you were saying
before about good design is that actually they would find bits
of high density in an area and then the gardens and the houses
for families. We are getting better at it!