Dean Weldon, Development Manager at Deeley Group, looks at market trends in the provision of affordable homes
The Deeley Group recently outlined its plans for growth and that will see a greater focus on providing affordable homes.
This emphasis is based on market need, our track record in successfully delivering projects, – either on our own or for sector clients – and our in-house capability.
Homes England has increased its funding and there is greater Government emphasis on delivering more homes and ensuring there is sufficient affordable housing – which is what is driving the market.
Therefore, there is a need for more stock and this has meant there is more demand from registered providers. We are in a very good position to help deliver against that demand across all forms of affordable housing – social rent, affordable rent, shared ownership and the recently announced First Homes.
We can – and do – work on projects of all sizes and scales but at present, the ‘sweet-spot’ for the majority of registered providers is in the 30 to 60-unit range.
This is generally due to the numbers being too small for volume builders to get involved.
Some of the more established registered providers are now venturing into larger schemes if they are in particular areas of growth and are willing to push as far as 150-200 units in some cases.
However, once unit numbers exceed 50-60 plots there is often a need to incorporate a percentage of private housing into the scheme as local authorities are hesitant to allow such large affordable-only schemes.
One strategy which is particularly effective related to affordable housing is the Rural Exceptions Policy. This is a national and, in most cases, local policy which allows affordable housing to be delivered outside of settlement boundaries and outside of the development plan.
This policy is relatively restrictive in some places and is often limited in size depending on the size of the settlement. There has been a recent appeal decision where the inspector overturned the local authority’s refusal of a rural exceptions development of 128 homes in Burton-upon-Trent.
This has set a precedent for affordable housing undersupply being given ‘significant weight’ within a planning balance argument and will lead to the delivery of some large sites over the coming years. These sites have even been known to secure planning within the green belt.
The introduction of the new First Homes scheme at the end of June, which is now included within the definition of Affordable Housing, will constitute the first 25 per cent of all on-site provisions going forward. We are very keen to explore this new model which should present opportunities across the market to offer a more diverse range of affordable homes for the people that need them.
One common theme that we have noticed is that Affordable Housing Providers are now becoming much more commercial given the scale of the grant funding that is available and they are being aggressive in pursuing opportunities which suit their own personal growth ambitions.
We have worked in the affordable and commercial housing sectors and that, along with our experience in construction and development, makes us very well placed to help deliver schemes which will make a telling difference to the housing shortage.
It is also why we see the sector a key to our growth in the medium and longer term.