Councils hold key to affordable housing crisis

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

Oliver Conway
Oliver Conway 18 May 2017

Making a neat inventory is a good idea, but if the seller is not willing to provide it, can the buyer demand it?

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Bertrand
Bertrand 17 May 2017

First step to nationalisation of the private rented sector IMHO. Nanny state poking their noses into things yet again. I object, as a decent landlord, sometimes having to deal with some pretty awful tenants,...

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Izzy
Izzy 16 May 2017

This is such a great a post. I love the detail you've gone into. It's a very useful article for helping those who are looking at deciding which sector they would like to go into! When I first started investing...

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paul burnham
paul burnham 30 Apr 2017

Jeremy Corbyn's pledge that a Labour government would build 500,000 new council houses must electrify the general election campaign. Reliance on markets and the profit motive has brought huge housing-related...

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CommercialTrust
CommercialTrust 28 Apr 2017

Sadiq Khan?s announcement of an online database of landlords and letting agents who have been convicted of housing offences, appears on face value to be a variation of the already implemented Database

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warren
warren 26 Apr 2017

You're very welcome Mary! Glad you enjoyed them :)

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Mary Ward
Mary Ward 26 Apr 2017

Thank you for the wonderful ideas. First impressions can make or break a deal. It's sadly that many homeowners drop the kerb to create an off-street parking space.

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Tony Gimple
Tony Gimple 14 Apr 2017

I'm not at all surprised that so many landlords are still confused about what the tax changes really mean and how it will affect them. In particular, the blind rush to incorporation is leaving landlords...

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MH
MH 13 Apr 2017

You are right that the bank holidays are going to be spoiled in looking for the properties. But people who want to sell their property and looking for the better relocation, they can get benefits of this...

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bnellyb
bnellyb 08 Apr 2017

There will be an exodus of private landlords over the next 5 years as tax changes take effect, private landlords provide an important service to the rental market, why do housing associations and councils...

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Fred Cassman
Fred Cassman 07 Apr 2017

"Make it look like you are at home": often people forget this and share on facebook their location!

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jared townsend
jared townsend 05 Apr 2017

It'll be interesting to see how & if the Government's asset sale regarding mortgages helps

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