Planning for new homes for today and tomorrow

Published 20th September 2017 at 2:56pm

In a region that’s created 37,000 new jobs in just two years, housing the people who work here is an important issue both for residents and for the organisations that employ them. So the group representing business across the region, the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), is driving forward with its plans for creating new homes for today and for generations to come.

The LEP is currently drawing up its next masterplan, the ‘Inclusive Industrial Strategy’, which focuses on the key priorities to keep the Sheffield City Region (SCR) at the forefront of regeneration in the UK. It will set out an ambitious vision for economic growth across the SCR, with the overarching aim of building on the core strengths of a city region that designs, develops and distributes.

The Strategy highlights the importance of increasing not only the number of new homes, but ensuring they are high quality, with good transport connections. And it stresses that we must not neglect the vitally important role that new housing and improved education have in shaping more vibrant and successful cities and towns.

Where connectivity is good, there is evidence in the housing market that the City Region is attracting and retaining higher income younger commuters and other residents. That is feeding through into residential demand from this group.

So the launch of our £8milion ‘SCR Housing Fund’ later this month is hugely significant. This will operate as a pilot and could become a model for future Government investment in the SCR.  It calls for bold, innovative ideas and for faster construction to help provide the minimum of 7,000 homes every year the SCR wants to achieve, and it will make it possible to develop in areas where previously building homes was not possible due to a range of economic factors.

The Government’s new national Housing Infrastructure Fund is only open to local authorities and a number of the SCR authorities are already developing bids to it.  The SCR fund will complement this, but take a regional approach to gaps in the market, and be open to a wider range of partners. They will include local authorities, housing associations, arms’ length management organisations, and private sector developers.

We are deeply committed to providing high-quality homes which meet the needs of this booming region. The way to get this done is through the Sheffield City Region. In a decade, we have built innumerable business partnerships, smoothed alliances between the public and private sectors, and created highly-efficient regulatory systems – we can make it very easy to deliver here.

The SCR pilot will be overseen by local authority leaders and private sector businesspeople with a knowledge of housing development, and will take a robust approach to appraising proposals. Factors considered will include the cost per home, any increase in land value and local amenities, how much private sector and additional public sector resource can be generated, and what proportion of the investment will come back to the SCR.

  • At the same time the SCR is continuing to develop a second project, its new ‘More New Homes’ partnership approach, which was welcomed by Sir Ed Lister, Chair of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), visiting Sheffield earlier this month.

More New Homes – the first of its type in the UK – will tackle the need to build more social homes in the region. The More New Homes approach could deliver at least 1,360 new affordable homes and 200 market price homes each year.

Traditionally housing associations, house builders and other providers have competed against each other for funding. The More New Homes project will help unite the region’s key housing bodies to work closely together to bid for funding for key social housing projects and to attract greater private investment.

In return for fulfilling those aims, More New Homes partners will ask the Government’s Shared Ownership and Affordable Homes Programme for around £23million annually.

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