Mayor sets out housebuilding ambition

Joe Anderson will seek cabinet consent this week to establish a new housing company to build 10,000 homes in the city with a focus on rent-to-buy.

A report to the Cabinet on Friday 24 June is asking permission for the city council to establish a local authority owned, commercially driven ‘for profit’ company which, over the next few years, would develop houses on land owned by the council and the public and private sector across the city for sale and rent. The aim is to provide new routes into home ownership for people by developing new starter homes, rent-to-buy properties and shared ownership schemes. The company would also act as a private landlord.

Around 50 local authorities in England are understood to be drawing up similar plans, the council said.

Under rent-to-buy, tenants purchase the property at a discount after a period of time funded by the increased value and an equity contribution built up through the rental.

The city council would maximise construction employment opportunities for local firms and apprentices, and profits made by the company would be recycled back into supporting wider council services.

Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson said: “We have done an awful lot to increase the range and choice of housing in the city over the last few years by working with housing associations and developers, as well as through our innovative Homes for a Pound scheme.

“Our success in creating more than 5,000 new homes with private and public sector partners has improved life for thousands of residents and is generating valuable council tax income to help offset cuts in our funding from Central Government.

“However, despite this work, I am acutely aware that there are still far too many people who simply can’t get a foot onto the housing ladder in the areas where they want to live.

“This is an opportunity to use our knowledge and land to build properties which boosts employment, while at the same time helping people into their first home.”

The company would not rent properties out on a social housing basis or seek to compete with housing associations.

Cllr Frank Hont, Cabinet member for housing, said: “This is not a return to the days of the council being a social landlord providing mass housing. The company will operate commercially but be very focused on social value and social responsibility and won’t compete with Housing Associations.

“This is not about competing with other sectors but about filling gaps in the market which the private sector is not doing, and increasing the quality of the housing market.”

The company could also buy up and refurbish vacant property to support parts of the city where the housing market is struggling.

Over the last five years, a number of local authorities including Thurrock, Gateshead and Brentwood have entered the housing market on a commercial basis.

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Rent to Buy is a very fair way of actually helping renters get on the housing ladder. Rent somewhere at a fair price, with the opportunity to gradually buy in to the freehold. Used to be a few of these knocking about via Housing Associations, but dried up when the Great Recession hit.

By comparison, “Help to Buy” is just a way of allowing cheeky developers to charge 20% more than what people can actually afford (i.e. 20% above market value), with the shortfall being picked up by the government.

By creep

I dread to think what this will lead to, in terms of quality, quantity and location.

By Mike

Great news .

By Ronnie

Great news, but why have the Council not been doing this for the past 20 years??? Not rocket science!

By Steve B

I agree with Steve B comment -Could Joe et al not have done this with some of the prime sites that have gone for a song (New Heys) and other site in Woolton think its Watergate lane etc. and had a development partner or some arrangement where the council maintains control to get the most benefit for the people of the city?

By Mary Smiley

The more options for people to get on the housing ladder the better, and this sounds like a good way of making it more affordable, ploughing some of the profits back, and supporting regeneration in inner city areas.

By Alfie

Weak criticism to say “they should have done this before” – that just shows its a good idea. Well done Joe

By creep