A first wave of strategic partnerships with housing associations have been agreed to boost the building of new affordable homes in England.

The landmark deals with eight housing associations will see some 14,280 new homes built by March 2022, according to Homes England, the governmental body responsible for increasing the number of new homes being built, as part of a funding package worth just under £590 million.

The deals include homes for social rent in areas of high affordability pressure, with the funding available boosted by the Government’s announcement of an additional £1.67 billion for the £9 billion affordable homes programme.

It says that this new approach will also boost the wider supply contribution from the sector, with the eight partners signing up to deliver more than 23,500 additional homes across all tenures, including for market sale.

In total, Homes England will provide a funding package of just under £590 million through to March 2022 to support the first wave of strategic partnerships with the emh group, Great Places, the Home Group, Hyde, L&Q, Matrix Partnership, Places for People; and Sovereign/Liverty.

‘There is no mission more urgent than making our housing market work, and we are investing £9 billion in building affordable homes. This £590 million fund we are giving Homes England will help housing associations accelerate the delivery of affordable properties communities need,’ said Secretary of State for Housing James Brokenshire.

The announcement marks the first step towards a new way of working between Homes England and its partners, adopting a programme approach to delivery, with plans to explore how adopting this approach across Homes England’s land, funding and powers can further generate additional supply.

Homes England will also re-open discussions with the sector this summer on a second tranche of strategic partnerships. The national housing agency will also be looking at the lessons learned from the first wave of deals to see what flexibilities can be offered to site-by-site based bids.

The deals come only six months after Homes England chief executive officer Nick Walkley challenged the sector to form a new type of partnership with Government to increase the supply of affordable homes.

‘When we launched Homes England, I called on housing associations to work with us to develop ambitious strategic partnerships that would help them to get on and build significantly more affordable homes than they were previously planning,’ said Walkley.

‘After a huge amount of hard work, these new deals show our real determination to combine ambition, flexibilities and the full range of our resources to change the way we deliver affordable homes,’ he explained.

‘This is a very important day for us but we have no intention to stop here. Over the summer, we will work to expand the eight deals to become even more ambitious while agreeing a second wave of strategic partnerships with other ambitious housing associations. This is a fantastic opportunity for the sector to up its game and get more affordable homes built more quickly,’ he added.

A project group comprising the National Housing Federation and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government was established to understand the barriers to delivery, form a new relationship with Homes England, and design a revised investment framework to increase delivery of new housing supply through new ways of working.

According to David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, these strategic partnerships give ambitious housing associations the investment and flexibility they need to help increase the supply of new homes.

‘We have been clear for many years that this will be a huge help in increasing delivery, and these partnerships are a testament to housing associations’ determination to build many more new homes. We now look forward to working with the Government to make these new flexibilities over grant and tenure more widely available,’ he said.

The eight housing associations have all committed to significant increases in their development programmes, in exchange for an additional year’s funding beyond the current spending review settlement and the ability to use their funding flexibly across their development programme in response to the ebb and flow of progress on individual sites.

They will also be able to respond to local markets by determining the tenure of affordable homes as they near completion on individual sites, by managing the overall tenure balance through the oversight of a Strategic Partnership Board with Homes England.

David Montague, chief executive of L&Q, said that the housing association is already committed to building 100,000 quality new homes over the next decade and this partnership will enable them to do more.

‘It is the beginning of a cornerstone relationship that will enable us to deliver more genuinely affordable homes where they are needed, and explore modern methods of construction that will allow us to achieve a step change in production without compromising on quality,’ he added.

Source: Property Wire