Leading land broker Aston Mead is calling for local authorities to set up joint venture partnerships with developers, in order to accelerate the building of affordable homes.
Land & Planning Director Adam Hesse suggests that councils offer selected land to developers as part of joint venture partnerships, which would prevent developers having to raise funding for both the purchase and build of properties – something which SME developers in particular find difficult to do.
He said: “The simple truth is that no developer is going to consider a site when as much as half of it has to be classed as affordable. Instead, we need a radical new approach to the problem, and – as the largest landowners in the country – I believe local authorities can provide the solution.
“Councils already have to make available lists of land which they own. Land could be offered on the basis that at least 50% of it is for affordable homes. The developers then have the opportunity to bid for each site on a sealed tender basis – which ensures that the local authority is getting the best price possible.
“The developer gets almost immediate income back from having a ready-made buyer who will take 50% of the housing off their hands – perhaps in staged payments – and the council gets its cut of the profits following the sale of the private section. It’s a win/win solution!”
Adam Hesse says such an approach would mean more land is brought forward for development – particularly the smaller sites in towns and villages that are badly needed – and brings with it a whole host of benefits.
He explained: “This way developers get to crack on without long planning issues because the local authority will have been supporting them from the very start, and the council get the 50% target they are looking for – or even higher if necessary. It might go on to prove that it’s possible to develop affordable housing next to private homes and make it work successfully. And if so, it might encourage other schemes to follow suit.”
He added: “There may even be some sites where the council keeps the units and becomes a Private Rental Sector landlord themselves. As a result, councils would start to take back control and be less at the mercy of private landlords, some of whom are not the most scrupulous when it comes to housing benefit.
“But we must make no mistake: increasing the amount of affordable housing is one of the key considerations in construction today. We need to provide more – both for the people who need a roof over their heads, and to reduce the impact housing has on the rising cost of living.”