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RPs accelerate development: a not so relaxing summer!

8 September 2016 • Julie Loggenberg

In what is traditionally a very quiet time for the housing sector, Croftons has seen a surge in development instructions during July and August; a possible pointer to renewed confidence as RPs push ahead with development programmes.

Whilst some clients are understandably still treading carefully following the rent cut and the continued uncertainty about funding for supported housing, and others consider mergers, many are now exploring different models and seizing the opportunities with ambitious programmes to accelerate delivery and investment.

The sector is watching
A prime example of this is the recently announced Joint Venture between London & Quadrant and Trafford Housing Trust. It of course helps if you have ready access to funds and the L&Q/THT approach poses some interesting questions about the north/south divide – we in the north appear to have land but little money, whilst those operating in London and the south east have substantial reserves but no land. An over simplistic view of course, but this model is certainly something the sector is watching closely.

Away from traditional models
Equally important is putting in place the right development teams with the necessary skills and commercial outlook to take on the spec builders at their own game. Clients are telling us that this is the key driver as they move from traditional development models to market driven necessity to deliver that much trailed ‘profit for purpose’. We are also seeing that more clients are moving ‘out of area’ to find the right sites and opportunities.

Crofton’s Development for Profit seminar held earlier in the summer seemed to have caught the mood, fuelling an interest in how RPs can successfully bridge the skills gap. We will be looking more closely at this issue in the Spring with a seminar programme in conjunction with CIH.

Tensions within
Tensions will always exist within RPs struggling to reconcile their core values of providing social housing and support to those in need with finding ways to provide that housing with little or no grant. As we go into the autumn and beyond it will be interesting to see if RPs can overcome these tensions, and if housing in a wider sense can fight for its place on the Government’s agenda amidst Brexit and grammar schools!

Big decisions to come
Jeremy Corbyn used a recent PMQs to focus on housing and Gavin Barnwell, Housing and Planning Minister said of the Neighbourhood and Planning Bill that: “The prime minister has been absolutely clear that we need to build more homes and this bill is the first of a number of measures to deliver on that.”

Whether addressing the overuse of pre-commencement planning conditions or reforming the compulsory purchase order process system to make it “clearer, fairer and faster” will in reality have any effect on delivery remains to be seen. What is clear is the bigger decisions are still under wraps and therefore the autumn statement will be much anticipated.

Click here to contact Julie Loggenberg.


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