Homes and Communities Agency scales back development as proceeds from land sales plummet

The Homes and Communities Agency has said that the value of its land assets has fallen by £1.1bn and that it is incurring a £542m charge to reflect the difference in value in its accounts for 2008/2009.

The quango’s annual report reveals that its property and development holdings has fallen from more than £1.8bn in 2007/08 to £764m in 2008/09.

The HCA denied that delivery of affordable homes would be affected by the devaluation and said it had met housing targets, with 53,843 new and affordable homes completed and work started on 44,472 more during the period. However, affordable home starts would drop by a third next year, it admitted.

Proceeds from the sale of land and buildings by the HCA fell from £333m in 2007/08 to £51m in 2008/09. The HCA said this would affect its property and regeneration budget, but said it would continue to fund priority projects. During the property boom, half of the quango’s funding came from asset disposals.

John Tatham, partnerships director of regeneration firm, Igloo, said the news was to be expected since the HCA held the riskiest bits of land.

The HCA could use income from existing tenants to invest in infrastructure

John Tatham, Igloo

But he warned that the quango would have to be smarter in the future if it were to continue with its development programme where credit was hard to get.

“The HCA could use the income stream from any existing tenants to invest in infrastructure or buy other bits of useful land,” he said.

The HCA said: “The down valuation will have no impact on delivery of affordable housing. The loss will only be crystallised if the asset is sold.”

It added that it would meet housing targets in this year and the next.