Telegraph Voices: Solving the challenges facing property market in next decade

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Working together to make city region a magnet for development agencies - Tony Stacey, chief executive of South Yorkshire Housing Association

It is impossible to grow our economy without building homes to house people who will take up the jobs we create.

Here’s the good news. Our local growth plan set a target of creating 70, 000 jobs for the Sheffield City Region, and, after three years, we are significantly ahead of this.

The bad news is that the Sheffield City Region’s housing plan is to treble housing supply, but housebuilding is flat-lining.

We should be building 10, 000 homes each year, and, for the last three years, supply has been static at around 3, 000.

Worse – a significant number of the new homes are purpose-built blocks for students in the centre of Sheffield – important in themselves, but not addressing the central problem.

This picture of under-supply is mirrored across the country. For the last 10 years we are building at around half the rate we need.The Sheffield City Region has one significant factor in its favour – we are not short of house building land. A recent study found there are enough housing plots to accommodate around 70, 000 homes.

So what are the problems? Firstly, there are the housebuilders. Only nine out of the top 25 have a real presence in Yorkshire.

Housebuilders gravitate to the areas where it is easier for them to develop and where they can maximise profit margins.

Low house prices and rental values locally mean that the Sheffield City Region is not automatically an attractive option for them. And the planners? Well, they could certainly do better. Local authorities have acknowledged this and are planning to develop City Region-wide best practice.

Secondly, there is the issue of infrastructure and contaminated sites. Here, the government’s housing agency, The Homes and Communities Agency, can help. South Yorkshire Housing Association hosted a visit from the HCA’s Chair, Sir Edward Lister, two weeks ago.

Sir Edward was clear the HCA wants to help stimulate house building locally through acquiring sites, remediating brown field sites and injecting grant funding.

Thirdly, there are the social housing providers. Last year sub-market housing accounted for 40 per cent of new supply nationally. Locally it was just 18 per cent.

The local authorities and housing associations such as SYHA have recognised this and come together to set out a vision for ramping up supply.

Their plan is set out in More New Homes for the Sheffield City Region. Central to the plan is collaboration between all local housing providers to ensure new delivery models, innovative sources of funding and better collaborative working to make the Sheffield City Region a magnet for all housing development agencies.

South Yorkshire Housing Association’s new scheme with Cheyne Capital is a case in point. This will see 225 flats developed in Sheffield’s Kelham Island area.

Without government subsidy, SYHA will be able to let one third of the homes at sub-market rents, the first time this has been tried in the UK.

We need a political will and a new approach - Paul Blomfield, Labour MP for Sheffield Central

It is impossible to grow our economy without building homes to house people who will take up the jobs we create.

Here’s the good news. Our local growth plan set a target of creating 70, 000 jobs for the Sheffield City Region, and, after three years, we are significantly ahead of this.

The bad news is that the Sheffield City Region’s housing plan is to treble housing supply, but housebuilding is flat-lining.

We should be building 10, 000 homes each year, and, for the last three years, supply has been static at around 3, 000.

Worse – a significant number of the new homes are purpose-built blocks for students in the centre of Sheffield – important in themselves, but not addressing the central problem.

This picture of under-supply is mirrored across the country. For the last 10 years we are building at around half the rate we need.The Sheffield City Region has one significant factor in its favour – we are not short of house building land. A recent study found there are enough housing plots to accommodate around 70, 000 homes.

So what are the problems? Firstly, there are the housebuilders. Only nine out of the top 25 have a real presence in Yorkshire.

Housebuilders gravitate to the areas where it is easier for them to develop and where they can maximise profit margins.

Low house prices and rental values locally mean that the Sheffield City Region is not automatically an attractive option for them. And the planners? Well, they could certainly do better. Local authorities have acknowledged this and are planning to develop City Region-wide best practice.

Secondly, there is the issue of infrastructure and contaminated sites. Here, the government’s housing agency, The Homes and Communities Agency, can help. South Yorkshire Housing Association hosted a visit from the HCA’s Chair, Sir Edward Lister, two weeks ago.

Sir Edward was clear the HCA wants to help stimulate house building locally through acquiring sites, remediating brown field sites and injecting grant funding.

Thirdly, there are the social housing providers. Last year sub-market housing accounted for 40 per cent of new supply nationally. Locally it was just 18 per cent.

The local authorities and housing associations such as SYHA have recognised this and come together to set out a vision for ramping up supply.

Their plan is set out in More New Homes for the Sheffield City Region. Central to the plan is collaboration between all local housing providers to ensure new delivery models, innovative sources of funding and better collaborative working to make the Sheffield City Region a magnet for all housing development agencies.

South Yorkshire Housing Association’s new scheme with Cheyne Capital is a case in point. This will see 225 flats developed in Sheffield’s Kelham Island area.

Without government subsidy, SYHA will be able to let one third of the homes at sub-market rents, the first time this has been tried in the UK.

Planning process has to be streamlined - Mark Ross, director at Redbrik estate and letting agents

One of the biggest challenges for home buyers and renters in the Sheffield City Region is the lack of available stock in the housing market.

There is huge demand for quality, affordable housing across the region, which is not being met and there are simply not enough options for those looking to purchase or rent a home.

With so many fantastic developments in the Sheffield City Region at the moment – such as HS2, AMRC, Boeing and Channel 4 – the demand for excellent homes is only going to increase so now is the time for action.

At Redbrik, we are working with numerous developers to try and bring more homes to the area.

With fewer properties on the market, it is important that steps are taken to ensure that there is a steadier stream of new build properties becoming available in the region.

“We would hope that the often long, laborious, and expensive task of planning be streamlined and developers encouraged to come up with more creative, alternative solutions to help ease the demand for housing before the problem worsens.

Build-to-rent schemes are a fantastic alternative to home ownership and are fast becoming a hot investment for investors across the UK.

Developing purpose-built, top-quality rental homes that are close to the centre of urban conurbations is a fantastic way for the Sheffield City Region to reach their housing targets.

Long-term renting is on the rise and build-to-rent properties are suited to those who are looking for more flexible living.

These properties will appeal to the plethora of professional people set to be moving to our city – those who do not want, or simply cannot afford, to purchase their own home.

Low-rent homes must be genuinely affordable - Tracey Nathan, manager of homeless charity Shelter in Sheffield

Rising homelessness is the tragic consequence of a chronic lack of affordable homes combined with welfare cuts and unstable private renting.

Every day at Shelter in Sheffield, we support families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.

And worryingly, right behind them are thousands of other families barely able to pay their rent and constantly teetering on the brink of that awful situation.

The government can’t continue to ignore the root cause of this crisis and the families most affected by it.

These targets can’t be seen as merely aspirational, or homelessness will continue to rise.

It’s crucial that homes are affordable for people – and that will mean a good proportion of genuinely affordable low-rent homes.

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