London is set to be the big winner of the Autumn Statement commitment to affordable homes, and the GLA’s new guidelines will help too
The dust has now settled on the £1.4bn new money announcement to deliver 40,000 homes over the next five years. This means that there will be a total of £4.7bn for affordable homes. Government has confirmed that recipients will be able to build homes of any tenure, including a return to rents at below the 80% of market rents, which is a characteristic of the current programme.
The distribution of the programme across the country is eye-catching. London will get at least £3.15bn to deliver 90,000 homes. It has already pressed the starting gun on its new programme, and it’s open to providers of all types, including housing associations, developers, local authorities and public/private partnerships and joint ventures.
The GLA has also published an Affordable Housing Supplementary guidance, which provides guidance on affordable housing and tenure splits. It builds on an existing borough viability protocol and aims to provide stronger and more consistent review mechanisms. Schemes with at least 35% affordable housing will receive less scrutiny and hopefully faster progress through the planning system. This is all good news and has been welcomed by the private and public sector alike.
The distribution of the programme across the country is eye-catching. London will get at least £3.15bn to deliver 90,000 homes
The sting in the tail is if there is less than 35% proposed. In these circumstances, there will be a full viability assessment; scrutiny by a new GLA viability team; the percentage of the affordable housing enshrined in the section 106; and a review mechanism applied at a number of stages. Not such good news.
Registration for the new programme has now opened and the system will be open for new bids from the end of January 2017. There is an ambition to make allocations by May 2017 and to have all contracts signed by June 2017.
It is an ambitious programme, but well crafted to ensure the best chances of delivery. The contracts are to be streamlined and there will be less prescription on delivery. If ever there was a statement of intent - this programme sets out its stall.
Steve Douglas is a partner at Altair