Editor: Kate Parker’s recent article considered why local authorities (LAs) were struggling with social and affordable housing targets, a topic that ought to be at the top of Michael Gove’s in-tray.
Identifying the problems as falling between LA capability and private sector interest, she highlighted LA ambition for sites, their skillset to transform them and the willingness of commercial housebuilders to deliver affordable homes in partnership.
One way housebuilders can help is by utilising a flexible joint venture model involving local councils as equal investment partners rather than being a client, which inherently creates an imbalance in the relationship. Designed, importantly, to operate within a 50:50 governance structure, this drives a culture where the aims and objectives are equally balanced.
Adopting our Hill Investment Partnership model has enabled various mixed-tenure housing projects to get off the ground. For example, our Ironworks and Timber Works developments in Cambridge prove that delivering homes alongside the council provides a real catalyst for wider change.
We have 2,500 much-needed homes in our development pipeline via two Investment Partnerships with Cambridge City Council and Rushmoor Borough Council, with more to come from a new Investment Partnership with South Cambridgeshire District Council.
The investment of our skills, expertise and passion supporting the swift, economic delivery of housing enables our LA partners to quickly unlock the potential of their land assets while guiding their projects’ direction to fruition. Co-locating our teams nurtures collaboration, solves problems quickly and fosters a powerful working relationship.
Investment partnerships engender trust and stimulate a range of regeneration opportunities. For example, Cambridge Investment Partnership (CIP) will deliver 480 affordable homes and 295 private sale homes with more to come.
CIP has also supported the council with commercial development, enabling the generation of new income streams.
Kate Parker’s article identifies the gap between private sector delivery and local authority capability when providing affordable housing. I believe there are workable models that can bridge that gap. These should be highlighted when searching for solutions so that they may be adopted more widely.
Tom Hill, regional director, Hill