Real Estate Blog: Homes England Strategy – a new focus
I think most of us are aware that as a country we are not building enough homes and last year, despite the highest rate of building for a decade, only 250,000 homes were built against a target of 300,000. The fact that this target has never been met has terrible consequences for people and communities.
Homes England has just unveiled its next five-year strategic plan underpinned by more than £16 billion of funding made up of the Levelling Up Home Building Fund, the Affordable Homes Programme (2021-26), the Home Building Fund, the Housing Infrastructure Fund, the Land Assembly Fund, the Single Land Programme, First Homes and Help to Build.
The emphasis in Homes England’s Strategic Plan for 2023-28 is on a joined-up approach to creating, regenerating, and sustaining communities to support the development of quality, affordable homes and the regeneration of towns and cities. There is also the recognition of the need for more housing for older people and supported housing, but no detail yet on how this will be delivered.
What Homes England and the sector have to say about the new strategy
Chair of Homes England, Peter Freeman, said: “There is no doubt that housing plays an enormous role in the wellbeing and prosperity of our country. As an agency, we firmly believe that affordable, quality homes in well-designed places are key to improving people’s lives. And our updated strategic plan has been designed to enable us to deliver against that.”
Chief executive Peter Denton added: “We are already promoting schemes that are building to the new requirements of the Future Homes Standard, promoting biodiversity net gain and adhering to Building for a Healthy Life guidance. But as we move forward, the quality, decency, design, and sustainability of what is built will increasingly take centre stage in our work with partners.”
The general view from within the sector is that the new focus on wider benefits of schemes such as the environment, culture, health, and social care is a significant step in the right direction to help social housing providers to deliver more for their communities. However, some are concerned that the plan focusses more on the larger, more ambitious housing associations, which may leave the smaller ones wondering where they fit in.
In response to the new Homes England strategy, Marie Chadwick, Policy Leader at the National Housing Federation said: “We welcome Homes England’s renewed focus on regeneration in this ambitious strategic plan, which rightly recognises the key role housing associations should play in place-making, as well as the importance of sustainability in new communities.”
Let’s hope the plan helps to not only increase the number of homes, particularly affordable ones, that are built, but also to deliver on creating new communities rather than just housing estates.
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