VIDEO | How to overcome today’s affordable housing challenges

Major players in affordable housing delivery across the region including Halton and Knowsley councils, Kellen Homes, and Turley joined Place North West and Onward Homes to discuss how to boost the deliverability of affordable homes.


  • Sandy Livingstone, executive director of property, Onward Homes
  • Stephen Young, chief executive, Halton Council
  • Eleanor Frith, head of land and partnerships, Kellen Homes
  • Stephen Taylor, head of urban, Turley
  • Alan Broadbent, group manager of housing, Knowsley Council
  • Eoin O’Donnell, partnerships director, Castle Green Homes
  • Chaired by Paul Unger, founder and publisher, Place North West

Key talking points


  • Greater Manchester Combined Authority has been supportive in funding brownfield projects with affordable units in their tenure mix. Recipients include Kellen Homes.
  • If we get a Labour government there needs to be another policy era to match New Labour’s Urban Renaissance brownfield-first approach.
  • If he becomes prime minister, Kier Starmer, is likely to want quick wins and could offer more money to regeneration, housing providers need to be ready with a pipeline of deliverable projects.

Affordable Homes Programme

  • Rules have changed to allow grants to be spent on replacement homes not just new ones, known as ‘additionality’.
  • However, these replacement units have to be delivered by 2025, meaning if work has not started already it will be impossible to meet the deadline.
  • Social housing and regeneration are emerging themes in the Homes England lexicon, suggesting greater financial support and relaxed rules could be coming down the line.

Supply chain fragility

  • Developers and local authorities must work with the supply chain to predict and prepare for problems, adjusting margins and increasing payment if required. The cost of not doing so could be more damaging if sub-contractors fail mid-build.
  • Onward Home has created the Onward Academy to help improve the skills of the supply chain with a particular focus on retrofit and the new net zero carbon agenda having secured more than £8m to date from the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund to deliver energy efficiency upgrades in residents’ homes.
  • Tackling difficult sites such as those with steep slopes or heavy contamination adds to the risk of overruns and problems not shown in surveys. This pressure on margins needs to be shared and factored into contracts.

Changes of use

  • Enforcing design standards is important if councils are to protect quality of place. Short-term outlook by trader developers can lead to a lack of stewardship and engagement with the area.
  • Onward Homes holds sites for the long-term, which encourages greater maintenance and ongoing care and attention to resident need
  • Permitted development rights produce poor examples of change-of-use such as ill-fitting office-to-residential. PDR is a way for government to show delivery without doing much
  • Town centres need a rethink, what is the future of Blackpool and North Liverpool? Communities and local authorities need to bring people together around the conversation.

You can hear highlights from the roundtable in the video at the top of this article, as well as on the Place North West YouTube channel. Learn more about Onward at

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