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We are continuing to make excellent progress under our Affordable Homes Programme with contracts signed to date now totalling over £1.3bn, and including commitments from the first two private developers.These important milestones show that the capacity and appetite for building new homes remains, despite the challenges presented by the current economic climate These contracts alone are expected to deliver nearly 70,000 new affordable homes across the country by 2015, out of a total over up to 170,000, and we anticipate seeing many starts on site this financial year.  

It has taken a great deal of close working by HCA teams and our delivery partners in order to reach this point, demonstrating how successful a joint working approach can be. We are very clear at the HCA that we cannot achieve anything on the ground without our Partners, but without a mutually supportive approach, the Programme would simply not have reached this advanced stage, just six months after the deadline for offers from our partners. By working side by side, we are helping to ensure that our investment achieves best value for money and maximises the positive outcomes for local communities.

The HCA’s purpose is to contribute to economic growth by helping communities to realise their aspiration for prosperity and by delivering quality housing that people can afford.  And as that fundamentally means meeting locally identified priorities, I am particularly pleased that we will be directly funding so many local authorities through our mainstream programme.

A great example of how these new affordable housing schemes will have a positive impact can be seen in the South East area, where allocations to providers were highest with nearly 4,000 new affordable homes earmarked for delivery in Kent alone.  These will be closely aligned with locally identified priorities in the area, where average house prices have been recorded as being up to 14 times the average local salary.

We also have high numbers of homes in predominantly rural areas, which have particular affordability problems, such as Norfolk, Suffolk, Sussex and Surrey.  And to meet another priority, around 30 percent of all homes being delivered across the area are larger homes, with three or more bedrooms to cater for families.

But in delivering schemes like these, our role is by no means complete.  Looking forward we need to maintain the momentum under the AHP; continue to deliver against our existing commitments under the previous Programme; and add value to our investment through our enabling skills and expertise, while maximising the link between housing delivery and economic growth and development.  

In the Housing Strategy published just last week, Government has introduced  new support to tackle supply and demand issues by unlocking stalled sites and providing first time buyers with easier access to finance.  The Strategy also announced the £400m Get Britain Building Investment Fund, to be managed by the HCA, and intended to unlock up to16,000 homes on stalled sites and boost the economy.

Land will remain a key means of driving economic growth and together with our partners we must do all that we can to increase the amount available for development, and speed up the rate at which it is brought forward.  Our Development and Land Disposal Strategy outlines how the HCA intends to do this – through assembling and de-risking sites, pioneering the “Build Now, Pay Later” deferred receipts model and aligning our investment with other funding streams such as Growing Places.  We are also working with Government to establish a process for unlocking more land from Central Government and other public bodies, while establishing stewardship arrangements for over 300 economic assets which we took responsibility for from the RDAs earlier this year.

So the Affordable Homes Programme remains a significant priority for the HCA and the sector much take huge credit for the way in which it has stepped up to the challenge of delivery so far.  But it shouldn’t be seen in isolation.  New homes, economic growth and land are intrinsically linked, so I welcome the role the HCA has to play in using investment and assets as flexibly and innovatively as possible in order to maximise impact on the ground.

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Written by Pat Ritchie   
Tuesday, 06 December 2011 10:36
Last Updated on Tuesday, 06 December 2011 10:39

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