Editor: The rebrand of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities suggests its secretary of state Michael Gove is keen to progress at pace. But at such an economically fragile and critical time, and following a Budget that was positive for affordable housing, it’s important that the sector also has certainty.
This government’s ethos on housing has been consistent and while areas of the strategy would benefit from further thought, I would urge Mr Gove not to radically alter course. The government’s housing plan sets out a range of pathways to affordable ownership – including First Homes and a clear statement of intent in reforming shared ownership. The injection of £8.6bn in funding for affordable homes through Homes England and the Greater London Authority not only commits to significant provision of social and affordable rented homes but also ringfences investment for rural development.
As a social housing provider operating across the south of England, this gives me hope for parts of the country that haven’t received the same attention as urban centres. We encourage Mr Gove to maintain these strategies.
This is also an opportunity for the housing sector to look at how we can work together to solve the housing crisis.
If I had one request of Mr Gove, it would be to give communities a greater role in deciding how and in what form housing is delivered. The simplest way to do this is to give Community Land Trusts (CLTs) greater funding. As they are run by the people who will live there, CLTs are often best placed to understand local housing needs and are more effective at generating local support for development projects.
This can make countering planning objections or showing that a project is in the area’s best interests more straightforward. CLTs should be viewed as vital to ensuring investment delivers the mix of housing communities need.
Bjorn Howard, group chief executive, Aster Group