Councils should collaborate with private sector on housing delivery, finds review

Out-Law News | 05 Aug 2014 | 3:44 pm | 1 min. read

Collaboration with the private sector could help councils drive a "step change" in the delivery of new homes, a review has found.

progress update (9-page / 107 KB PDF) on an independent review into the role of local authorities in housing supply announced in the government's 2013 autumn statement reported widespread agreement that the supply of housing was a local and national priority and suggested that councils should look to private investors to help bring forward housing development.

The leaders of the review, Natalie Elphicke, chair of housing initiative Million Homes, Million Lives, and Keith House, board member of the Homes and Communities Agency reported that "there is a pressing need for a step change in the role that local authorities can play in supporting housing activity and housing supply, which includes renewing and refreshing housing in line with local need, and being more pro-active in using existing powers, levers and opportunities to lead housing growth".

"There are ... clear signs that this step change can be delivered through collaboration between public and private sector partners and market-supported solutions", said Elphicke and House. "Local authorities are already demonstrating how locally led, market-supported approaches, including local housing vehicles, can help to lever in investment, harness experience and unleash capacity."

The progress update, released last week, follows a call for evidence, several consultative events, data analysis and a review of good practice examples, and draws on over 250 responses from participants. The update reported that local authorities recognised their increased role in delivering homes. However, issues remained with communicating the availability of housing land, with the pace at which public land was released for development, with enabling small builders to get involved in supplying housing, and with unlocking private investment.

The next phase of the review will look at options for improving councils' skills and capacity to deliver housing, increasing the pace of delivery, bringing smaller sites forward for development and simplifying access to private finance.

A full report is expected by the end of the year.