Housing Corporation threatens to cut grants if higher standards are not met in Thames Gateway

The Housing Corporation has warned developers that it will no longer compromise on design quality in the Thames Gateway.

The corporation’s design strategy, published this week, reveals that the quango is drawing up higher standards for development across the Gateway.

Referring to the conclusions of the corporation’s review of design standards in the Gateway, corporation deputy chief executive Steve Douglas said the quango would not compromise on design quality. He added: “We don’t always get the optimum design and quality through section 106.” The design strategy also warns developers that the corporation will reduce grants for developers that do not meet its quality standards.

But it states that shared ownership schemes funded by the corporation will not have to meet the same level of standards as socially rented properties. Developers will also be rewarded for providing larger units.

The strategy sets out standards developers will have to meet if they want to access grants from the next round of the National Affordable Housing Programme (see box below), which subsidises the construction of 47,000 homes a year. As well as allowing developers to secure grants over a longer period, it will make a pot of funding available on a quarterly basis so applications can be made when sites become available.

While welcoming the grants decision, Tom Dacey, chief executive of the Southern Housing Group, said the higher quality standards may be difficult to achieve in the Gateway because of rising land prices.

National Affordable Housing Programme at a glance

  • Extends developers’ social housing grant funding from two to three years
  • Introduces five-year funding packages for large, strategic sites
  • Introduces less onerous regulation for developers that do not plan to manage the housing that they build
  • Councils and arm’s-length management organisations become eligible for social housing grant
  • Makes achieving code level three of the Code for Sustainable Homes a condition for receiving grant.