A Vision for Social Housing - Report

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Housing & Regeneration Article

05 February, 2019

This month saw the release of 'A Vision for Social Housing', a report written by Shelter's Social Housing Commission.

The report highlights a number of recommendations, one of which is that 3.1 million new social homes should be built in the next 20 years to help solve the housing crisis which has left millions in unaffordable rented homes.

The report looks at the expensive and time-consuming process of gaining planning permission for, and then building social housing. It draws particular attention on the Land Compensation Act 1961, which gives landowners a claim to 'hope value' in the price of their land. As it is not economically conventional to purchase expensive land to build supported affordable homes the Commission has suggested the Government reform this Act, so that landowners are paid a reasonable price for their land rather than a price it might achieve with planning permission it does not have.

If the Government implements the Commission's proposals, there would be a pragmatic shift in social housing. For developers, this would mean building which removes separate entrances for affordable housing tenants. Nonetheless, it would still be crucial for developers to design their buildings whilst ensuring that maintenance costs are minimised for tenants. Moreover, increased tenure diversity on large development sites would be required to meet the housing target. This means local authorities will be under pressure to allocate planning, as they will be held to account for the homes built in their jurisdiction. It is envisaged this would ensure more planning consents are granted in areas with the highest need for housing.

The report also calls for:

  • The replacement of existing social housing stock that has been sold-off, in a bid to ensure that Right-to-Buy schemes are sustainable;
  • A new consumer regulator to set and enforce common standard on the safety and quality of homes whilst also protecting renters and ensuring their voices are heard;
  • Tenants to be given more authority on the day-to-day running of their homes by giving them a voice when it comes to things like renovations;
  • The removal of the 'serious detriment; test for intervention in disputes between landlords and tenants.

The strength of this report comes from the fact that its author is an independent cross-party body, thus representing a consensus view. By calling for reform and an increase in social homes, the report adds to the growing idea that social housing needs a long-term programme of investment, and that it is a crucial national asset.

For more information contact Aisha Bhailok in our Housing & Regeneration department via email or phone on 01772 220240. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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