August 30, 2017 1:01 pm | Thought provoking blogs |

Granby Four Streets Project in Liverpool

The recent announcement by Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, that planning approvals for residential schemes comprising at least 35 per cent affordable housing will be fast tracked is a very positive step in the right direction for the UK’s housing crisis

The question remains, however, is this really enough?

Can we expect similar commitments to be made by planning authorities across the country and, if so, how does that fit with planning legislation and local and regional development plans?

The Hawthorns, Audenshaw, Manchester

Secondly, ‘affordable’ is an ambiguous term that’s open to interpretation by planners and developers. A developer’s view of affordability is relative to the cost of private housing on the same scheme and the potential profit of the project as a whole, once the 35 per cent of affordable units have been factored in.  Meanwhile, a resident’s perspective on affordability is relative to their income and outgoings. Both construction costs and disposable income can fluctuate.

So, what’s the answer? The fundamental goal is to ensure that we have enough homes for everyone and easing planning constraints so that developers can get on site is definitely part of the equation. But, as a nation, we need to think more creatively, which may mean looking beyond the conventional options of private and social housing.

One example of unconventional approaches to generating affordable housing is the Granby Four Streets initiative in Liverpool #granbyfourstreets #liverpool, a co-operative, community-led housing project which has seen a formerly derelict area transformed thanks to co-operation between community groups, the local council and housing associations.  At the core of this successful venture is a community that wants to create real homes for real people.  Better still, the project has also been used as a way to develop skills amongst local people, creating a sustainable social legacy alongside housing improvements.

Cullen Street Community Garden

This kind of can-do, joined up thinking is needed across the whole housing delivery chain, from planners and local authorities, through to developers and housing associations, contractors, consultants and suppliers.

The problems of housing and construction skills have both been discussed at length – surely it’s time to take inspiration from projects like Granby Four Streets to consider solutions to both?

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