To boost housebuilding the HCA needs to be more flexible with deadlines and funding allocation
I read with interest your news story on the Homes and Communities Agency’s (HCA) housebuilding targets, which pointed out that housing starts have increased by 171%, while completions are down by a fifth (HCA ‘on track’ despite slump in completions, 14 June, page 12).
The HCA’s latest deadlines require work to be on site by September 2013 and achieve practical completion by March 2015 or lose 2011/15 funding. This may be helping to fuel strong figures for housing starts but at what cost?
The lack of flexibility in HCA deadlines is already causing serious difficulties for local authorities and housing associations, as many organisations are tendering multiple projects at any one time. In some cases projects have yet to receive planning permission and could waste the time and resources of everyone involved if consent is not given.
Some contractors are reacting to increase in demand by raising their tendering price by 10%-15%, and the pressure of having to turn multiple tenders around is causing contractors to bid for work without considering costs and suitability.
To boost housebuilding the HCA needs to be more flexible with deadlines and funding allocation. Otherwise, the industry will recover from the current misleading surge in demand to find that the wrong contractors are working on the wrong projects, creating problems for the delivery of affordable homes by 2015.
Mash Halai, head of residential development and regeneration, John Rowan and Partners