Select Committee on Office of the Deputy Prime Minister: Housing, Planning, Local Government and the Regions Memoranda

Memorandum by David Lobban & Judith Gannon (HOU 17)


Whether the funds in the Comprehensive Spending Review will achieve the Government's target of a decent home for everyone by 2010.

  It is unlikely that the funds arising from the Comprehensive Spending Review will be sufficient to meet the scale of the problem in the time allotted.

  The manner in which the available funds are allocated is critical to this (see points 2 and 5 below).


How spending of the new resources should be balanced between social housing and options for owner occupation for those who cannot afford to buy (including shared ownership) and the mechanisms to be used for their distribution.

  A significant proportion of the population in need of affordable housing aspire to buy their own home. The biggest hindrance to buying is the lack of sufficient incomes to afford open-market housing.

  There is no reason why by providing smaller units of accommodation, or units where the purchaser fits their own kitchen or bathroom (the developer providing the "shell"), that homes to buy could not be provided at lower market access levels in a similar manner to that used in some parts of Europe, which would enable a significant proportion of those in need to buy their own home.

  This option requires little or no subsidy from local authority or government sources.

  The future retention of these homes as affordable can be controlled by restrictive covenants on price on future sale—perhaps by links to indexation—or with surplus proceeds of future sales going towards other affordable houses.

  There is little point in providing subsidy to registered social landlords for social housing which then require further annual subsidy to maintain and manage that housing when there are viable alternatives available.


The role of planning obligations in providing affordable housing.

  The use of planning obligations will be essential in ensuring that affordable housing is both provided in the first instance and that it remains affordable. This latter point relates particularly to units of affordable housing provided for sale where covenants may also be required to ensure that the unit remains affordable.


The effectiveness of the Housing Market Review Fund in tackling housing needs in areas with low demand.

  We have no experience of the Housing Market Renewal Fund.


How the quality of new affordable housing can be ensured and the poor design of previous house building programmes avoided.

  The need for quality affordable housing well integrated with other housing is set out in PPG3 and endorsed by the main sectors of the housing market. The key problems in achieving this objective arise from the failure to institute development briefs providing design guidance for the whole of development sites and the fact that the affordable housing is frequently developed in isolation from the rest of the housing stock.

  This latter point arises because of the incompatibility between development time scales and the funding arrangements for the provision of affordable hosing via registered social landlords. A further problem arises because registered social landlords frequently wish to build to different standards than those accepted by purchasers. In addition, they require the units to be grouped together for ease of management.

  Finally, they appear to have a predisposition for traditional three-bed, semi-detached units with seven metres of garden, which inevitably leads to "suburbia" which is frequently poorly integrated or at odds with the urban design solutions which apply to many urban Brownfield sites.

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