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

MBM Homelets
MBM Homelets 23 Mar 2017

Although this is a very positive step, there is little or no guarantee of the standard of workmanship employed by the tenants. We have had experience of a professionally decorated property being ' painted'...

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ajay
ajay 21 Mar 2017

How is the "robust evidence" looking now?

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NathanG
NathanG 20 Mar 2017

I've been watching the series so far and am completely baffled by the cases that were presented. Though, I don't think that we can protect ourselves from every scam possible - it will just make the scammers...

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Landlady14
Landlady14 01 Mar 2017

You would think so Niraj Shah! My experience only proves that there are varying qualitiers of professional in all aspects of property letting. None of the ones I have dealt with, from letting agents to...

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Mark
Mark 01 Mar 2017

Thanks for this article. Hopefully one day everybody's lifestyle will be eco-sustainable.

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Ben Taylor
Ben Taylor 28 Feb 2017

I was convinced that London was the most expensive!

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Alan Read
Alan Read 28 Feb 2017

Australia are leading the way in this I think. The trouble with Britain is we don't get enough sun to make use of solar power.

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James Powell
James Powell 27 Feb 2017

This is a very good news.

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DanHumphreys
DanHumphreys 27 Feb 2017

It sounds like a good idea. Anything to help the younger generation get a foothold.

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Matt
Matt 20 Feb 2017

Is this fake news?

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Matthew Hollywood
Matthew Hollywood 07 Feb 2017

Matthew Hollywood - Director Mishon Mackay Land & New Homes - Brighton The shortage of New Homes is in part effected by the lack of land sales. Land sales are held back because there is a disparity between...

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CommercialTrust
CommercialTrust 30 Jan 2017

Hi Graham, Would be interesting to see the above figure calculated against an investment via a Lt Company /SPV structure and if the investor found themselves pushed in to the higher tax bracket. Mortgage...

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