04 March, 2008
The initial stage of the Housing Corporation's £8.4 billion investment programme was launched last week with the intention of marking a substantial increase in the number of affordable homes available to buy and rent.
The first step of the National Affordable Housing Programme (NAHP) has earmarked £3.3 billion towards new build properties designed to satisfy the Corporation's higher programme standards in terms of both value and quality.
It is hoped that the NAHP will provide prospective occupants with homes that are not only larger and built to a higher design specification, but also specialised in terms of specific needs, be it housing for families or elderly and vulnerable persons.
In keeping with the current ecological agenda, the developments will also implement a step change reduction in their carbon footprint, with a target to save more than 90,000 tonnes of CO2 a year.
This marked increase in quality must surely be welcomed as a step forward in providing suitable housing that the country needs.
Housing Corporation Chief Executive Steve Douglas commented 'This will ensure we maintain focus on raising both value and quality, creating a legacy of thriving communities where people want to live, work and raise their children.'
In creating such a legacy the Housing Corporation have initiated what is the largest investment programme in the Corporation's history. The three year programme, running from 2008 to 2011 will apportion a total of £8.4 billion to the provision of at least 155,000 affordable new homes to satisfy the growing demand from first-time buyers and families.
This figure is double the number of homes compared to the 2006-2008 programme and will constitute more than 100,000 properties allocated for affordable rent and more than 50,000 allocated for affordable sale through the Government's Home Buy initiatives.
Last week's announcement was only the beginning. This spring should see more housing providers taking the opportunity to bid for funding from the NAHP programme. It is the first time that market engagement has given housing providers the chance to secure grants at regular points throughout the three-year programme. It is expected that private developers, ALMOs and other local authority vehicles will all apply to become investment partners; co-operation which should help maintain the high standards upon which the NAHP programme is based.
Furthermore, in response to the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) and the Housing Green paper it is predicted that housing associations will additionally draw down £12 billion of private borrowing to more than match the £8.4 billion of Corporation funding.
It is hoped that all this continual investment will provide a strong platform from which to build a better future for social housing.