Housing Association Magazine Editor Joe Bradbury takes a sneak peek at the social housing Santa list. Excitable Edgar aside, what do we want for Christmas as a sector?
It’s understandable that many are struggling to feel jolly as another year is added to the number of years of failure in housing policy. The once common concept of home ownership is now an impossible dream for many, and untold numbers of people are being pushed into homelessness.
The catastrophic decline in social housing has left millions feeling insecure in unaffordable homes they’ll never own. Unless we take action, the future of man will be a generation of young families that are, at best, trapped renting privately for their whole lives, with billions in welfare costs being paid to private landlords. Bah humbug!
Social housing provider Stonewater has been named Legal & General Affordable Homes’ (“Legal & General”) largest management partner. Stonewater is supporting the organisation in delivering its ambitious development plan of building 3,000 homes by 2022, by leading on Legal & General’s housing operations across England.
The not-for-profit organisation is one of 14 housing organisations appointed as management partners to Legal & General. Stonewater is first expected to take over the management of 300 homes across England – in areas like Worcestershire, Warwickshire, Leicestershire, Hertfordshire and Central Bedfordshire – between now and March 2020, with another 700 to follow.
Current construction methods are so wasteful we must effect change. Housing Association Magazine Editor Joe Bradbury looks at ways in which social housing can lead the way to more sustainable construction.
At a recent event at Mitsubishi Electric’s Hatfield headquarters, just shy of 200 specifiers, architects, Housing Associations, housebuilders and heating engineers gathered to hear a passionate presentation from architect and TV presenter, George Clarke where he called on the housing sector to radically transform the way we build homes.
Victoria Galligan spoke to Habinteg housing association’s Chief Executive Sheron Carter about the history of accessible housing in the UK, the latest standards in housebuilding and how more needs to be done to future-proof homes so they can be used for life…
Habinteg is a housing association with a difference – its properties are all built using an accessible design model which means people with disabilities can get around easily, and residents are housed within mixed housing so they are not isolated from the rest of society but integrated within it.
Way back in 2017, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, announced the government’s intention to build 300,000 new homes a year. The chancellor conceded there will be no ‘single magic bullet’ to increase the supply, and indeed two years later, we are lagging behind targets.
In my opinion, the target itself is relatively modest and entirely possible to achieve with existing and planned manufacturing facilities, despite the media obsession with productivity scores.
The current blame game that seems to be going on within the marketplace isn’t helping either, the latest coming from Robert Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government. His shot across the bows at Housing Associations was decidedly unhelpful and might have the effect of driving a wedge at a time when we need these institutions to help deliver on social housing requirements.
However it represents the narrow approach often adopted by Government (of all shades). We need more diversity, whether it’s architects, developers, construction methods or my particular sector, building materials.
Subsidence is often perceived as a nightmare scenario by social housing providers, who fear the disruption and cost of having to get it treated. However, fixing subsidence needn’t be a massive headache. The latest technology uses expanding geopolymer resin that is injected into the ground through small holes, meaning tenants can stay in their home while work is carried out.
What is subsidence and what causes it?
Subsidence is when the ground underneath a property can no longer support the weight of the building and as a result, the building begins to sink into the ground. Often this is just on one side, causing the property to lean and cracks to appear in the walls.
Modular construction is the process where building components are produced in a factory, before being transported to the site for assembly. The pieces arrive already finished, minimising the amount of technical work required onsite.
It is not a new concept, but in recent years the method has seen a surge of popularity, with both housebuilders and policymakers starting to realise its potential to solve a number of the industry’s current challenges.
From reducing a project’s environmental impact to saving developers money, the benefits of modular construction are tangible. It’s why the UK government has set a target of building 100,000 such homes a year by 2020 – a substantial increase from the 15,000 currently constructed annually.