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The HCA reached a crucial milestone in its role as an investment, enabling and delivery agency earlier this month as we announced the successful providers who will, once contracts are agreed and signed, create 80,000 new affordable homes across the country through the HCA’s Affordable Homes Programme The £1.8bn investment programme, launched in February, will deliver more homes than anticipated for Affordable Rent and affordable home ownership due to the quality and quantity of offers made by providers, helping the government to exceed its ambition to deliver 150,000 new affordable homes during the 2011-2015 spending period.  It is now anticipated that up to 170,000 new affordable homes will be delivered over that period.

It has taken a lot of hard work by HCA teams to reach this point and they have worked closely with partners in local areas to make sure that our funding will achieve best value for money to really maximise the positive outcomes for communities. I am particularly pleased that we will be directly funding so many local authorities through our mainstream programme, to deliver affordable homes. And in meeting local priorities we are delivering a significant number of larger family-sized homes, supported housing and homes in rural areas, which have particular affordability problems.

We are now moving into the delivery phase, and will be working with successful partners to get contracts signed up to allow delivery of much needed affordable homes to begin.

The new programme builds on the success of the previous comprehensive spending period’s National Affordable Housing Programme, which saw us exceed targets to help more homes start on site during the last financial year. Reflecting a very strong year of delivery, the top line figures, show that the Agency far exceeded its key outputs for 2010-11, achieving a total of 57,605 housing starts on site against a target of 34,982 – equating to 65% above target - and 64,242 housing completions in England against a target of 62,495, in the financial year ending 31 March 2011. In the case of the latter, this figure is an increase of 8,088 more homes delivered than last year (56,154).

These figures demonstrate how we are making a significant impact on boosting the supply of much-needed affordable homes across the country in partnership with local authorities, Registered Providers and developers. They all must take much of the credit for delivery on the ground.

Seeing these schemes come to life really underlines the importance of the HCA’s role in helping to improve communities and enable more people access to a good quality, affordable home. For example, At Greenroyd Mill in Yorkshire, HCA funding is helping to transform a nineteenth century textile mill into housing for older people. This will replace a local development, which is no longer fit for purpose as well as increasing general supply.

The total site will include 94 homes, 69 in the Mill building and the rest built within the original boundary. Craven District Council and partners is creating 69 affordable homes, of which 30 will be for rent to families and 19 homes will be available for older people with a further 20 homes available to first time buyers.

On a smaller but no less significant scale, the first residents have just moved into New Chapter House, a £2.8 million pound refurbishment of a listed building in Dorking Town Centre, Surrey.  The once derelict building known locally as ‘The Old Fire Station’ now houses 16 residential apartments for rent and shared ownership, helping more local people onto the housing ladder as well as a retail unit on the ground floor.

Our Affordable Homes Programme is only in its early stages but the quality of the offers we received shows the appetite among partners to deliver. I look forward to seeing the results as we move towards the delivery phase of the programme.

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Written by Pat Ritchie   
Friday, 22 July 2011 10:10

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