Manchester City Council is set to open up city centre sites for affordable housing and make smaller sites available for registered providers in a bid to ramp up the delivery of homes across the borough.
Under its updated policy, the council is now aiming to support the delivery of 6,400 affordable homes between April 2015 and March 2026; this is roughly 20% of the total of the 32,000 homes that will be delivered during that period.
This includes 3,000 council-built homes over the next 10 years, split equally between social rent, affordable rent, and shared ownership.
The council has also committed to producing a feasibility study into an affordable housing project in the city centre
Sites the council will look at to deliver new affordable homes include the Northern Gateway, where it is partnered with FEC; in east Manchester with Manchester Life; and Matrix Homes, which is run in conjunction with the Greater Manchester Pension Fund.
These partners will be asked to “lead by example” by offering 20% net new affordable housing. This is likely to vary from site-to-site within some of the larger masterplans; for example, not all the sites in the Northern Gateway will be expected to offer 20% affordable housing: some could offer 30% while others could offer 10%.
The council also plans to release 500 smaller plots to registered providers by March 2019; homes on these sites should be at least one-third for social rent, and should complete by March 2022.
Manchester City Council’s affordable housing policy has come in for criticism this year with a perceived lack of delivery hitting the national media in March; an article in The Guardian claimed that none of the 15,000 homes planned in central Manchester were classed as affordable.
An affordable housing scheme in Crumpsall will also go to the city council’s planning committee with a recommendation to refuse next week; the project has been heavily criticised by council leader Sir Richard Leese who argued adding shared-ownership apartments to the site would be “overdevelopment”.
However, Cllr Suzanne Richards, the council’s executive member for housing and regeneration, said the new proposals “signal a bold new approach to deliver genuinely affordable homes that meet the needs of all Manchester people”.
“Manchester is a hugely popular place to live and work but as the city’s success attracts more residents we must also meet the demand for more housing,” she said.
“As housing demand has increased and social housing has been lost through right to buy we have seen many residents on lower incomes unable to access the safe, secure housing that they need.
“The impact of years of austerity on the city’s public services and punishing welfare forms that have squeezed family budgets mean we have to try to do more with less money to support those residents on the lowest incomes. This review of housing affordability is critical to understanding what we can do to improve access to decent, secure and affordable homes for Manchester people.
“From working with communities to help them build their own housing to a programme of more than 3,000 new council-built homes we are determined to solve our cities affordable housing crisis and ensure everyone in Manchester has access to a safe, secure and sustainable home.”
The policy has already gone before the council’s economy scrutiny committee, and will go to executive next Thursday to be signed off.