District councils building homes at ‘considerable’ pace

Survey argues for Right To Buy reform, given difference made by scrapping HRA borrowing cap.


More homes are being built and planned for by more district councils in more places as a result of the lifting of the Housing Revenue Account cap, a new report reveals.

And additional freedoms for non-stock holding councils could accelerate plans still further, the District Council’s Network (DCN) says.

As reported by 24housing, the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has said council housebuilding is at its highest level since 1990, with at least 9,000 homes directly created by councils in England between 2017-2018 – based on figures supplied by 83 English councils to an online survey showing that, of these, 42% are affordable and 23% are social.

The DCN survey was commissioned with the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) to show that building plans are already advancing for a third of stock holding districts.

The survey shows no councils are standing still, as the remaining two-thirds embark on plans to increase the supply of new homes, but that they need more powers and resources to effectively manage local housing markets.

As well as certainty of future funding needed to plan effectively, the survey indicates districts need support from government agencies to speed up development, and local control over the discount levels and the time period for retention of Right To Buy receipts.

“HRA freedoms are a welcome start, but the Government needs to allow us to go further,” said DCN chairman Cllr John Fuller.

“It must reform Right To Buy, implement a streamlined Compulsory Purchase Order process, introduce step-in rights to intervene on stalled proposals, and release housing infrastructure funding to enable all areas to contribute to getting a roof over everyone’s head.”

Jonathan Carr-West, LGiU chief executive, said the report reinforced “great strides” that district councils have made in rising to the housing challenges of the last few years.

“The scrapping of the HRA borrowing cap has opened many doors for district councils up and down the country to build and plan for new homes,” he said.

“While this should be celebrated, it is unacceptable that councils still have no clear indication about how they will be funded this time next year.

“This is a massive hindrance on their ability to further plan for the future and build the homes that are desperately needed in their communities.”

Similar stories by tag