Housebuilders, developers and contractors in talks over establishing a list of approved firms

English Partnerships is considering drawing up a national framework for the private developers that are to help restart councils’ housing programmes.

EP this week issued guidance to 14 councils taking part in a trial of this programme outlining how it will work. It has also held discussions with developers, housebuilders and contractors about handling procurement on a national basis because it is concerned that councils may lack the staff to run procurement programmes.

Duncan Innes, EP’s regional director for London and the Thames Gateway, said the agency had been talking to contractors such as Galliford Try, Gleeson and Kier as there was “potentially interesting business for them as well as the more established housebuilders”.

Paul O’Driscoll, business development director at Wates Living Space, said: “One can see the sense of one organisation doing the procurement as a whole.”

But he added that councils may resist giving up control over procurement to EP.

Successful developers would form local housing companies (LHCs), which are joint ventures with councils. Fourteen councils are trying out LHCs, including Manchester, Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield and Barking.

In each of the areas, a joint venture will be established between the council and developer, with the former supplying land, which the latter will match with cash.

Each pilot will be expected to deliver 1,000 homes, although Innes said the biggest had the capacity to deliver up to 5,000 homes.

The government wants at least half of this housing to be affordable. Colin Dixon, managing director of developer United House, said the 50% target would be harder to achieve in low-value areas.