CABINET CALL: By South Holland District Council cabinet member Coun Christine Lawton
The much-anticipated Housing White Paper sets out the Government’s strategy for building more homes, and recognises the flexibility needed to enable councils to meet local needs.
Housing delivery has wider benefits for people and places, and we need the right homes in the right places with affordability an important part of our housing strategy.
We also have to plan for our ageing demographic. Between 2008 and 2033 over half of projected households will include over 65s.
The need to build communities that better match homes to households is one part of the challenge local authorities face, so boosting house building levels and increasing affordability are key priorities.
We recently held our first South East Lincolnshire Home Builders’ Forum, engaging with over 40 developers, land agents, planning consultants, housing officers and executive councillors, seeking ways to accelerate growth.
We had discussions with representatives from the Homes and Communities Agency who gave details of the HCA Home Building Fund, a £3billion government fund to support small and medium developers to accelerate small-estate building.
The feedback was excellent and we hope the discussions will translate into more new homes being built by local builders who understand the needs and aspirations of local people.
The White Paper also sets out recent proposals to address homelessness. The Homeless Reduction Bill will see the doubling of the Rough Sleeping Fund and refocus on prevention.
For South Holland, the recent successful bid into the Social Impact Bond – a county-wide £1.3m fund for a four-year programme to address long-term rough sleeping – will allow us to manage this issue in a holistic manner.
I am pleased to say that prevention of homelessness has been a priority for SHDC and bed and breakfast usage is kept at a minimum – we have our own temporary accommodation as part of our housing stock.
We are also looking at innovative ways to increase housing supply. Custom and self-build, factory and modular build are niche markets but all could be part of the mix, as is bringing empty homes back into use.
There is no silver bullet to solve the long-term shortage of housing, but we need and are right to demand that new developments are sustainable, high quality and are places where people want to live work and relax.
PS: It’s Spalding in Bloom signing-up time again and I am very grateful to those town traders who are already on board.
Last year was Gold-winning and we hope to continue our success.