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

Integrating Tenures

90. Several witnesses drew attention to the mistakes of the 1950s and 1960s when large council estates were built which tended to include high concentrations of poorer households. In its new programme, the Government must avoid creating ghettos by ensuring that different tenures are integrated into new developments. New approaches are required by private developers and housing associations to create mixed tenure schemes.

91. Different kinds of housing are being segregated because of resistance by both private developers and housing associations. The Local Government Association said:

     "The segregation of the social housing part of the development from the owner occupied part happens all too often.....Pepper-potting of affordable units that are otherwise indistinguishable from the owner occupied homes remain the best method of ensuring mixed communities. However developers for financial reasons and housing associations for management reasons sometimes resist this."[89]

Private housebuilders and mixed tenure

92. Private house builders oppose putting social rented housing alongside market housing for sale, because of the reactions of prospective purchasers. The Royal Town Planning Institute said that developers regularly produce counter proposals for offsite affordable housing provision. [90] Moreover, lenders were concerned about the impact on property values if different tenures were integrated.[91]

93. Councils too frequently allowed developers to make payments for off-site affordable housing rather than agree as part of planning gain to integrate it as part of their developments. PPG3 says that planning agreements are supposed to ensure that developer contributions towards affordable housing are on-site as part of mixed tenure development, and that councils should only accept financial contributions for off-site affordable housing as a last resort. However, a study for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on affordable housing and planning agreements estimated that councils received about £35m in commuted sums for off-site development in 1999- 2000 rather than secure housing as part of a mixed tenure development.[92]

Housing Associations and mixed tenure

94. Housing associations are often not keen on managing housing that is dispersed across a large site. The Development Land and Planning Consultants said: "It is more economic to manage a group of houses together than if they are pepper-potted across an area, be it a larger expansion or throughout the established parts of a town."[93] Most housing schemes led by housing associations now include a mix of social rented and shared ownership homes but few have developed market housing for sale. Under Housing Corporation regulations, housing associations are not allowed to build homes for outright sale. They are required to set up separate legal entities which exclusively build private housing. Most associations rely on developers to build the private housing. Places for People Group is one of the few which has a building-for-sale subsidiary that has enabled it to achieve a greater mix of housing and to use some of the profits from the sale of the private housing for social rented housing and other community facilities.[94]

95. The Housing Corporation is considering changing the regulations. Its chief executive Norman Perry agreed that it would be better if building for outright sale became part of housing associations' main purposes.[95]

Service charges

96. In some mixed tenure developments the service charges are not affordable to the tenants in the social rented housing. Cambridge City Council pointed to trends for new housing developments to include underground car parks, 24-hour concierge systems and health and fitness clubs:

 "Registered Social Landlords cannot absorb these costs; affordable housing occupiers cannot afford to pay them and it would be unreasonable for the developer/private occupier to take on such an open ended financial commitment."[96]

Community Land Trusts

97. To create well integrated housing developments, proposals were put to the Committee for the Government to set up community land trusts to manage major new schemes. Lord Best from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation told us that local authorities and housing associations relied too heavily on the private sector. "If the whole system of housing supply depends entirely on the private sector housebuilders, we are not going to get well planned communities." [97] He suggested that the trusts could take forward major new urban housing developments. The trusts:

  • would prepare sites;
  • promote a mix of tenures developed by housing associations and housebuilders and
  • facilitate the cross-subsidy from private housing for affordable housing.

98. Mixed tenure development can create more sustainable communities; but at the moment many tend to segregate private housing for sale, shared ownership and social rented housing on different parts of the same site. In too many cases, councils are accepting payments from developers for off-site affordable housing as part of their planning obligations rather than integrating it within their schemes. Councils need guidance on the circumstances when commuted sums are acceptable.

99. The restriction imposed by the Housing Corporation on housing associations developing housing for outright sale is limiting their ability to secure mixed tenure development. The Housing Corporation should enable those associations with the expertise and resources to take on a wider role in developing mixed tenure developments. Housing Corporation funding also needs to ensure that the service charges for facilities in mixed tenure development such as car parking and 24-hour concierges are affordable to those in the subsidised housing. The Government should set up a series of pilot community land trusts to test their feasibility.

Providing Sites

100. The Government is prioritising the reuse of brownfield sites for new housing development which improves the environment in urban centres and minimises the need to travel. The Government's new housing programme offers an opportunity to reuse these difficult sites, many of which have blighted neighbourhoods for a long time. There is no shortage of potential brownfield development sites; that local authorities, Regional Development Agencies and other public landowners need to take the initiative in getting affordable housing built on them. We look at their roles below.

101. An increasing proportion of homes is in fact being built on brownfield sites. In 2001, 61% of homes were built on brownfield sites, exceeding the Government's 60% target for 2008.[98] But Lord Rooker pointed out that the target was met at a very low level of output. He said: "We will be stretched to maintain the 60% target by a step change in production."[99]

102. There is also an increasing supply of brownfield sites. English Partnerships' National Land Use Database shows about 21% of the sites identified by the first survey in 1998 had been developed by 2001. Local authorities have identified more brownfield sites and EP's latest survey in 2001 shows that about 62,400 hectares of brownfield land are available for redevelopment, an 8% increase on EP's last survey in 1998.[100] The survey pointed out that the average size of the urban brownfield sites was smaller than in the 1998 survey. Most of the brownfield sites are in the northern regions, but the database highlights the availability of about 22,000 hectares in the South; 12,000 hectares of that was suitable for about 380,000 homes.

89   AFH70 Back

90   AFH65 Back

91   AFH56 Back

92   Planning Gain and Affordable Housing Joseph Rowntree Foundation November 2002 Back

93   AFH45 Back

94   AFH26 Back

95   Q413-415 Back

96   AFH41 Back

97   Q46 HC 809-i Back

98   Land Use Change in England: Residential Development to 2001 - LUCS-17 Back

99   Q527 Back

100   Previously developed land that may be available for development (brownfield sites) in 2001. Table 5.1 ODPM Statistical Release BF-2002  Back

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