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Councils hold key to affordable housing crisis

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Councils hold key to affordable housing crisis

Land agent Aston Mead is calling on local councils to play a greater part in the push to create more affordable homes.

The company’s comments follow a recent analysis of London Land Commission data, which indicates that 93% of brownfield sites in London are owned by local authorities.

Aston Mead Director Adam Hesse said: “The only way to build cheaper homes is to pay less for the land on which they are built. We can’t expect private landowners to reduce their profits by selling land at subsidised prices. So as the largest landowners in the country, it’s the councils which hold the key to solving the affordable housing crisis. They need to identify the brownfield sites they are currently sitting on, and make them available.”

Under the Housing and Planning Bill, all local authorities will be required to keep up-to-date registers of publicly-owned brownfield land that could be suitable for development. Adam Hesse suggests that councils could start to act like residential property developers, perhaps in joint ventures with existing construction companies.


He explains: “One idea could be for councils to build 25% of their homes on their own land for housing benefit tenants, whilst retaining ownership of these properties. This would prevent payments being made to ‘Rachman’ style landlords, whilst giving the council more control over those who are in genuine need of accommodation. The local authorities would also retain the value of their estates as long term investors.

In addition, another 50% could be built for keyworkers, who would perhaps be allowed to buy half and rent half, with the option to buy the remainder of the property at a later stage. A pre-agreed mechanism could be put in place, whereby these owners could only sell the properties to other keyworkers, or back to the local authority. This would ensure that the properties remain affordable.

Finally, as councils are spending a lot of money housing older people with no way of paying for themselves, the remaining 25% could be built as sheltered accommodation – such as apartment blocks with a resident warden for the over-65s. However, it may be that 25% of each site needs to be sold to developers at market value, to help pay for the rest of the development.”

The recent ‘Domesday Book’ survey of all brownfield land owned by public bodies in London identified almost 37,000 brownfield sites (36,797), which in total could deliver over 100,000 homes.

Adam Hesse added: “What I’m suggesting doesn’t just apply to London. It’s something which could be carried out across the UK. Local authorities are the only organisations that can deliver cheap land for affordable housing in the sort of quantities this country so desperately needs.”

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Latest Comments

Paul
Paul 25 May 2016

Estate agents are pathetic when it comes to fees. They have this 'I had to do it at 1% because that's what the others were quoting' mentality. We are the most expensive agents in our area, charging double...

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HMO Midlands Landlady
HMO Midlands Landlady 24 May 2016

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CommercialTrust
CommercialTrust 20 May 2016

With the bulk of the market controlled by large developers, profit rather than necessity determine the pace at which homes are built. There are hundreds of thousands of plots that have planning permission...

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Johna
Johna 20 May 2016

"Easier said than done" is what I would say. Of course, it would be more than great to have more in quality and affordability, but I do not trust talk anymore.. What is said is not what is happening.

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Johna
Johna 20 May 2016

in my humble opinion being fair like THE most important! I myself have had bad experience with unfair landlords... not to mention that I know how to do a proper end of tenancy cleaning since I am a fantastic...

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richardrawlings
richardrawlings 18 May 2016

NB - even if we doubled our commission levels in the UK, we'd still be by far the cheapest agents in the entire world.

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Agent_PeeBee
Agent_PeeBee 18 May 2016

Clueless. Someone needs to take these people's computers away from them so they can do no more harm than they already have.

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richardrawlings
richardrawlings 18 May 2016

Nonsense! The cost of selling a house nowadays has little bearing on the fees charged. Don't believe your own spin on this. Fees have spiralled down to pathetic levels in areas where weak agents have allowed...

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Simon Oliver
Simon Oliver 16 May 2016

The best solution is to buy a property that has built-in income generating potential: a nice house with a couple of gites in the grounds is a good start. In France, the rune of thumb is that one 2-bedroomed...

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WPD
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It's enough to make me weep into my Pimm's :(

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james anderson 03 May 2016

The sad demise of the croquet lawn...

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