Soon it will be a year since the Government released their much anticipated housing white paper. The “broken” housing market is still going strong, although from time to time we see small glimmers of hope from the Government which make us sit up and listen.
My presentation at UK Construction Week outlined where the sector and more importantly Live Verde is addressing the points raised in the white paper, before we forget what it was all about. I used my presentation to refer to Chapter three of the white paper, this is the chapter which outlines what is needed from housebuilder and off-site manufacturing companies to speed up the process, and to be fair it isn’t rocket science….
1. Accelerated construction
2. Attracting institutional investors into the build to rent market
3. Supporting HA’s and Local Authorities to build
4. Creating more family friendly tenancies
As I’ve said for a long time, we aren’t going to be able to address the housing deficit in the UK if we aren’t able to speed up the approaches to house building to keep up with the continuing demand for decent homes.
We know that off-site manufactured homes are precision built with the flexibility and adaptability to tackle the “broken” market, we know that manufactured off-site constructed homes are energy efficient from day one, which is significantly greater than those traditionally built and we definitely know that off-site manufactured homes can be built 10 times faster than all traditionally built homes.
Off-site manufacture isn’t, however much I would like to say it, going to solve everything, whilst it will be the catalyst to get the UK building again, it’s also about ensuring all elements of the report work together- attracting institutional investment in to the sector and to stop prices and rentals being dictated by private landlords, who only have a handful of properties but who are able to control vulnerable markets.
More work with Housing Associations and Local Authorities needs to happen, to ensure those people sat on vast amounts of land are able to build on them and bring more homes through to the end user, therefore increasing the supply in to the market place. Live Verde has already set up one successful joint venture, with one of the UK’s largest housing associations – Your Housing Group, and we have several others up our sleeve for 2017/18
The sector also needs to realise that the days of people being able to afford a new home or indeed want to purchase a new homes are over – recent reports show that the average deposit required to purchase a new home currently stands at £26,000 – not an easy task for most people to be able to afford! Which is why creating more family friendly tenancies is hugely important to the success of the sector going forward – it’s about lifestyle choice and being able to adapt a product to fit someone’s lifestyle – whether that is flexibility of the terms of a tenure to suit the tenant or long term leases of 12, 18 and 24 months.
My final word is about acting now and not taking another 12 months to deliberate the paper’s recommendations – it needs to be turned in to bricks and mortar (or panels and off-site manufactured systems!!) now!
Stephen was appointed Chief Executive of Live Verde in September 2017 after four years with WElink’s North West joint venture partner, Your Housing Group (YHG).
YHG was formed following a merger of Harvest Housing Group and Arena Housing Group. This merger created a business with a combined stock of around 32,000 properties across the North-West, Yorkshire and the Midlands. In his role Stephen successfully restructured YHG’s specialist housing division to align with the private sector and together he and his team have just delivered over 1,500 affordable, shared ownership properties and homes for open market sale.