Call for a Public Land and Housing Corporation to deliver zero carbon social homes

By agency reporter
November 21, 2019

The government should set up a new body to help build 150,000 new social homes per year – 3 million social homes in the next 20 years  – according to a new report by the New Economics Foundation (NEF). The new Public Land and Housing Corporation (PLHC) should be set up to use public and private land strategically to deliver the next generation of zero carbon social homes, delivering 50,000 homes a year itself.

Previous research from NEF has shown that just six per cent of homes on public land the government sells are for social rent. The report finds that that public land could offer enough space for 200 – 250,000 social homes in the next parliament, with 100,000 on central government land.

The PLHC would sit in Homes England, have regional outposts, and be given many of the powers of New Town Development Corporations. It would strategically deploy surplus central government land, along with private land acquired at existing use value, to prepare the pipeline of land for social housing.

The report examines the Government’s role in building an average of 150,000 social homes a year through a mixed approach of direct delivery, and public sector land leases with housing associations. The PLHC would directly deliver 50,000 homes a year, housing associations could deliver 50 – 60,000 homes a year, local authorities will deliver 20 – 40,000 homes a year. The planning system will continue to mandate private developers to contribute 10 – 20,000 homes/year through Section 106 agreements. Over 20 years this would mean building a total of over 3 million social homes.

The report further sets out a radically revised approach to meeting the social housing deficit and building climate compatible affordable housing. It includes a proposal to repurpose the current government sell-off of public land to the highest-bidder, using surplus central government land to build social housing instead. Public land includes a lot of capacity in many of the places with the greatest levels of need, like London, but is being squandered, delivering just six per cent social housing. On public and private land combined, last year, only 6,463 social rented homes were built in total.

Joe Beswick, Head of Housing and Land at the New Economics Foundation, said: “The scale of the housing crisis means we need a renaissance in social housebuilding, with environmental sustainability at its core, Decades of broken housing policy mean that we have backlog of over 3 million social homes, and all parties must set out how they plan to meet this deficit if they are serious about solving the housing crisis.

“Our report makes clear that the government must once again become of a major player in housing delivery, and we set out how to do this. By stopping the sell off of public land, strategically assembling sites for developing social housing, and setting up a major new agency in central government which directly develops homes itself, the proposals made in this report bring meeting the enormous deficit one step closer.”

* Read Building the social homes we need: solving the land and capacity challenges here

* New Economics Foundation https://neweconomics.org/

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