Most London councils have set up own housing companies

Housing in London in 2010. © Jorge Royan / / CC BY-SA 3.0

A majority of London boroughs have set up their own local housing development companies as they look to build more homes, a new report has revealed.

19 of the capital’s 33 local authorities have set up local development companies wholly owned by themselves, while a further seven have entered into joint venture partnerships with other bodies.

The report, published by New London Architecture (NLA), said the figures show that London’s councils are beginning to return to delivering public housing after a slowdown since the 1980s.

Peter Murray, chair of NLA, wrote in the report: ‘In recent years authorities have begun to realise that they need to deliver more homes themselves if they are to meet their target for growth.

‘Supported by government policies that have encouraged greater entrepreneurialism in the public sector, local authorities are creating their own in-house departments as well as setting up companies to deliver new housing.’

The publication of the report follows figures released last week by the Greater London Authority, which revealed that London’s boroughs began building more affordable homes last year than they had done at any time in the prior 34 years.

According to NLA, new delivery vehicles, the lifting of the Housing Revenue Account borrowing cap last year and funding from London mayor Sadiq Khan have all played their part in London’s councils’ decision to build.

NLA also said that councils are making better use of the land they own, working with developers and housing associations to deliver a higher number of quality homes.

‘With the Mayor’s commitment to accommodating London’s growth within its existing boundaries, densification and intensification are essential considerations for boroughs in order to meet housing targets,’ read the report’s executive summary.

‘But in many London boroughs there is also a renewed sense of civic purpose: a return to a more holistic approach that recognises how local authorities have a responsibility not just to provide services and duty of care to their residents, but also high-quality, pleasant and affordable places to live and to work — places that can also support the sustainable growth of the capital.’

One high profile housing project that London councils have embarked upon is the Pan-London Accommodation Collaborative Enterprise (PLACE).

PLACE aims to deliver 200 affordable modular homes by 2021 which will be constructed temporarily on unused land for homeless families to use.

The enterprise awarded the Irish modular home manufacturer Extraspace Solutions the £40m contract to deliver the homes last month after Khan invested £11m into the scheme.

Chris Ogden
Digital News Reporter


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