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CHC calls for flexibility to deliver affordable homes

Community Housing Cymru (CHC) is calling for greater flexibility in rent setting, development quality and the distribution of grant in its submission to the Independent Review of Affordable Housing Supply in Wales.

Responding to a call for evidence from the review, the membership body for housing associations said it was vital that any recommendations consider the ‘unbreakable link’ between rent policy, the standards to which social landlords build and the funding they receive.

They also say that the planning system remains a significant barrier to capacity and the delivery of affordable home and are calling for action on land availability and construction methods.

CHC identifies what it says are opportunities for associations to maximise their potential and deliver on its vision of 75,000 homes by 2036.

Its initial recommendations are that:

  • Housing associations should be given greater flexibility in setting rents to allow them to develop their own rent policies which set rents locally and affordably.
  • Greater flexibility and longer term planning is required in the distribution of grant, to allow housing associations to balance the risks of certain markets and more complex sites and maximise delivery.
  • Zoning arrangements for development should be held at a regional level, linked to the City and Growth Deal regions.
  • Development Quality Requirements should offer flexibility to allow housing associations to innovate and build homes fit for the future.
  • Minimum space standards should be enforced across all sectors through the planning system.
  • There is significant potential in the delivery of Modern Methods of Construction to increase the pace and scale of building affordable homes, but collaboration and standardisation is required.
  • Public sector bodies should offer greater transparency on land availability, and show greater flexibility and partnership working to deliver more affordable homes on public sector land.
  • Greater collaboration between housing associations should be encouraged to overcome skills challenges and extend the financial capacity of the sector.
  • Long term certainty of the Dowry Gap funding for stock transfer organisations could unleash their potential and deliver at least 3,000 extra homes.

CHC chief executive Stuart Ropke said:

‘Our recommendations aim to be constructive and ambitious, and offer genuine solutions. We hope if implemented, they will set us up to be even stronger and robust as a sector, so we can meet housing  demand for housing, and build the high quality and affordable homes Wales needs.’

Review chair Lynn Pamment set out her agenda for it in an article in the last issue of WHQ. Read more here.

Initial recommendations are due to be revealed at CHC’s annual conference in November with final recommendations to follow in April.

The full CHC response is available here.

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