Local authorities could turn to building or buying homes outside their own area in cheaper locations as they seek to meet the requirements of the new Housing and Planning Act.
Although the fine detail of the new legislation and timing for introduction of key measures are still being clarified, local authorities are already thinking of how they will comply with its requirements. One measure requires local authorities to sell higher value homes as they become vacant, with funds being passed to the Treasury to support extension of right to buy to housing association homes. Local authorities will then be required to build one affordable home as a replacement for the home sold, with two replacement homes stipulated for every one sold in London. The government expects the move to raise £4.5 billion.
Research being carried out by consultant Arup and architect PRP is looking at how councils are considering responding to the new legislation, and is highlighting potential challenges. “Some local authorities are seeing this as an opportunity, recognising that their houses weren’t the right houses,” said Lynne Miles, associate in planning, policy and economics at Arup.
“But there are concerns about whether this will raise £4.5 billion, and a nervousness about how any gaps would be plugged. Some local authorities are looking at replacing outside their area in lower value areas,” Miles told the audience at the national conference of housing body, the Housing Forum, in London last month.
Already local authorities in London are turning to lower value areas to provide desperately needed temporary housing. Last month Redbridge council sparked controversy when it leased former MOD homes in Canterbury to house some of its homeless families. The move prompted an angry reaction from Canterbury City Council, which had also been bidding to lease the homes, but lost out to Redbridge.
Arup and PRP are continuing their research.