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VIDEO | Challenges facing North West housing and land supply

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Levelling up, the cost of land and planning issues were key topics at a discussion hosted by housing association Onward Homes.

The “Housing + Land Supply in the North West” roundtable was focused on establishing where the market was now, what is holding it back and how the industry can move forward when it comes to the titular topics.

The participants were:

  • Steve Heverin, director of growth and regeneration at Onward Homes
  • Gary Goodman, land and planning director at BXB
  • Guy Butler, co-founder of Glenbrook
  • Tahreen Shad, regional partnerships director at Lovell
  • Paul Smith, managing director at Strategic Land Group
  • Ian Thomlinson, director at Land4Homes
  • Mike Nevitt, managing director at Anwyl Partnerships
  • Eleanor Ogilvie, senior land and partnerships manager at MCI Developments

The discussion was chaired by Paul Unger, publisher of Place North West.

Onward Homes is a leading provider of quality, affordable homes for rent and sale in the North West. Currently managing more than 35,000 homes across the region, Onward Homes strives to go beyond just providing a roof over its customers’ heads and to make a real difference.

Watch the roundtable in the video below. You can also watch the video on Place North West‘s YouTube channel.

Talking points from the roundtable

Steve Heverin: “I think the thing that scares us a little bit is the current financial situation in terms of inflation, construction prices, and particularly the planning system and where that’s at, it seems to have tumbled down the agenda.”

Eleanor Ogilvie: “We have some allocated sites with local authorities that they need to push through. And it seems at least over a year since I sent them through the planning system, which is having a massive impact on housing supply.”

Guy Butler: “I don’t think the councils, particularly planning departments necessarily understand what delivery is. They understand what planning permission. They’re great teams but they’re just woefully under-resourced…there’s a disconnect between delivery and planning consents.”

Paul Smith: “The land supply is massively constrained.  Greater Manchester house prices have risen by more over the last five years than any other city in the UK. And that’s a function of the fact that half of the local authorities in Greater Manchester are not delivering enough homes.”

Gary Goodman: “People tend to buy houses for two reasons: access to job opportunities and be accessible in schools. So you’ve got to address those things two to address the housing imbalance.”

Tahreen Shad: “We’ve just not got enough detail in terms of what levelling up is. There are some big statements made. But there’s no detail behind it.

Mike Nevitt: “Trying to forecast the next two years for turnover and being able to tell residential providers what we can provide and where we’ve got gaps. It’s difficult. I can’t tell you in six months time I’m going to have planning, that I’m going to be on-site three months after… It’s also fixing costs with subcontractors, which is really hard. Because, as we’ve all pointed out, it changes week by week.”

Ian Thomlinson: “In the short term it’s a supply issue. We’re not we’re not providing enough land, to build enough houses to decrease the value of those houses, new houses, that has to be the case.”

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The final point made said a lot – that landowners run a competition to get the best value return on their land, and that developers then have to work out how to deliver a scheme – perhaps if developers refused to pay stupid prices which have no regard to legitimate planning requirements then there wouldn’t be such an issue.

By Martin Cranmer

House prices only have a tenuous link to supply of new homes – I wish people would stop repeating this self-serving urban myth. New house prices are generally closely linked to existing house prices in the area. General house prices are much more closely linked to available finance, the value of alternative investments and incomes than to new supply. For instance, finance is currently easily available at very low interest rates, and low interest rates make other ‘investments’ poorer value than property. The recent Stamp Duty holiday has also encouraged higher prices.

By Peter Black