First Minister gives new building boost for Wales

mr-carwyn-jonesThe First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones has set out his government’s five-year plan to deliver more jobs through a stronger economy while building a united and sustainable Wales.

The First Minister said the Welsh Government’s Programme for Government, Taking Wales Forward, makes clear that the government’s focus will be on driving improvement in the Welsh economy.

The First Minister also confirmed that the Welsh Government’s key pledges have been maintained despite the uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote, including the commitment to create at least 100,000 all-age apprenticeships and the development of the South Wales Metro.

Mr Jones said: “Taking Wales Forward outlines our key priorities for delivering those improvements. They are ambitious measures, aimed at making a difference for everyone, at every stage in their lives.

Together we can build a Wales that is more confident, more equal, better skilled and more resilient. As a country we have punched above our weight, and now we are ready to do more.

I want to see a Wales which is prosperous and secure, healthy and active, ambitious and learning, united and connected. This is the Wales we are determined to build over the coming five years.”

Housing boost for the Islands

Help to Buy scheme boosts house buildingUp to 100 affordable homes will be built in island communities through a new £5 million fund.

Speaking during a Scottish Parliament debate Housing Minister Kevin Stewart announced the Scottish Government will establish a new Islands Housing Fund – backed by up to £5 million funding over three years – to increase the availability of affordable housing in the islands.

This investment is in addition to the £25 million Rural Housing Fund which is supporting the building of new homes and refurbishment of existing properties in rural areas.

Mr Stewart said:“Scotland’s islands have rich and vibrant cultures and make a huge contribution to Scottish life but we know people living there can face challenges when it comes to accessing the home they want.

Our new £5 million Islands Housing Fund will increase the supply of good quality affordable housing which is an essential part of attracting and retaining people in our islands.

Investment in this support for the islands and through the Rural Housing Fund will help us deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes over the lifetime of this Parliament and ensure we are reaching across all of Scotland in our ambitions.

“Our Islands Housing Fund demonstrates our strong and continued support for our islands, with the forthcoming Islands Bill set to provide lasting benefits for these communities for generations to come.”

Apache in joint venture with Moda Living

apache-in-joint-venture-with-moda-livingApache Capital Partners has announced a joint venture with Moda Living to plan and build projects of approximately 5,000 homes and a gross development value of £1 billion.

This strategic joint venture makes Apache Capital the long term funding partner of Moda Living. The partnership is expected to create the largest owner of regional purpose-built PRS and one of the largest owners of PRS overall in the UK.

The portfolio concentrates on regional centres where population growth and an undersupply of residential accommodation looks set to trigger rental and capital growth over the next few years.

A focus on prime locations attracting the ideal tenant profile for PRS developments; 20-44 year olds with disposable income who demand locations and buildings that come with high quality services and amenities.

Richard Jackson, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Apache Capital Partners, said: “We at Apache Capital have seen a strong demand from our Middle Eastern investors in the UK’s Private Rented Sector.

This is partly because PRS is already an established sector in the region, the sector’s continuing supply/demand imbalance in the UK, but also coupled with the prevailing lifestyle shift toward flexible living that delivers high quality amenities and services.

“The 5,000 unit secured portfolio provides us immediate scale and Apache Capital and Moda Living will currently be the largest owner of regional purpose-built PRS and the second largest owner overall in the UK.

“This strategy builds on the success of Apache Capital’s Social Infrastructure investment platform, where we have aggregated an institutional grade portfolio of assets in the student accommodation and healthcare sectors.”

Lovell project director appointed for 800-home urban village

lovell-project-director-appointed-for-800-home-urban-villageLovell has appointed Lee Woodfine as project director for The Mill: an £100 million urban village set to bring 800 new homes and boost the building trades.

Construction work will start later this year on the development at Canton which is being created by a partnership of the Tirion Group, Cadwyn and Lovell.

Lee’s appointment sees him return to Lovell after previously working with the company in South Wales for nearly a decade, leaving in 2010.

His 20-year construction career has also included senior management roles with residential developer Kier Living, developer Sennybridge and construction services company ISG.

Lee, who lives in Blackwood, Caerphilly, said: “I’m delighted to be working on this fantastic development which will significantly extend the available choice of new-build homes for sale and for rent in Cardiff, through the creation of a brand-new riverside community. The Mill will be a superb place to live.”

Later this year, Lovell will start construction work of the new homes at The Mill which is set to transform the 53-acre former Arjo Wiggins Paper Mill site.

One of Wales’ biggest urban regeneration projects, the construction programme is expected to create over 1,000 jobs, many for people living locally, as well as significant training opportunities.

New Bill will boost growth and house building

Government welcomes house building boostMeasures in the new Neighbourhood Planning Bill will support more house building and provide support to local developments, the Housing and Planning Minister announced this week.

The Bill will speed up and strengthen the popular neighbourhood planning process by simplifying how plans can be revised as local circumstances change and ensure that plans come into force sooner once approved by local people.

Housing and Planning Minister Gavin Barwell said: “The Prime Minister has been absolutely clear that we need to build more homes and this Bill is the first of a number of measures to deliver on that.

“We have already built more than 900,000 homes since 2010 and now this Bill will help speed up delivery of the further new homes our country needs and ensure our foot is still firmly on the pedal.

“We’re also going further than ever before to speed up neighbourhood planning which puts power in the hands of local people to decide where development gets built.”

There will also be a simplifying of the compulsory purchase order process to make it clearer, fairer and faster.

Further Bill measures will ensure that planning conditions which require developers to take action before work starts are only used where strictly necessary, but in a way that ensures important heritage and environmental safeguards remain in place, so that once a developer has planning permission they can get on and start building as soon as possible.

This government is determined to boost home building and is taking forward the boldest ambition for housing in a generation, with a pledge to deliver one million new homes and a doubling of the housing budget to £20 billion.

Lovell starts £7.1m Essex housing scheme

Lovell wins £7.1m Essex housing schemeUttlesford District Council has chosen partnership housing specialist Lovell to undertake a £7.1 million redevelopment programme for an Essex sheltered housing scheme.

A ground-breaking ceremony has officially marked the start of construction on the project which will transform Reynolds Court in Newport, near Saffron Walden, into a purpose-built modern complex.

The existing sheltered housing is being replaced with 41 brand-new apartments for affordable rent – made up of 34 one-bedroom and seven two-bedroom homes – as well as new communal facilities including a communal lounge and a garden room, hair and beauty salon and a guest suite.

The first phase of demolition and site clearance has already been carried out. The demolition programme is being undertaken in two stages enabling existing tenants to stay at the sheltered housing scheme while it is being rebuilt.

The new complex is designed to achieve a ‘Very Good’ rating when assessed using the BREEAM system for measuring buildings’ sustainability. Energy-saving and environmentally-friendly features include underfloor heating and a sedum green ‘living roof’ which reduces rainwater runoff and provides a habitat for wildlife.

Lovell regional director Simon Medler says: “We are extremely pleased to have started work on these high-quality and modern homes and modern communal facilities for Reynolds Court.

Our team has extensive experience of delivering sheltered housing to an extremely high standard and are excited to be working on this scheme which will bring about real improvements for local residents.”

London Mayor to speed up housebuilding

Docklands deal will deliver 3,500 new London homesSadiq Khan has released the first details of his plans to set up a powerful ‘Homes for Londoners’ team at City Hall to oversee homebuilding in the capital and boost the delivery of new homes.

The Mayor of London has begun work to pull together and bolster housing and development capacity at City Hall and across the GLA family.

As a first step, he has begun recruiting new experts to scrutinise ‘viability assessments’ – the financial details that lie behind how much affordable housing new developments include.

The experts, who will be drawn from finance surveyors and property consultant experts and be based at City Hall, will support housing delivery by making planning decisions faster and more consistent, and by ensuring new developments include the maximum amount of affordable housing.

Sadiq will also lead a new ‘Homes for Londoners’ board, formed of London Boroughs, housing associations, and developers.

The board will oversee delivery, land assembly and investment decisions, and will draw on expertise from across the housing and property sectors to help develop new policy for the capital.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Homeownership has been slipping increasingly out of reach for more and more Londoners, and rents have been getting harder and harder to afford. I want to be honest with Londoners from the start that it will take time to turn things around – we’re starting from a position where last year the previous Mayor built the lowest number of affordable homes since records began.

I am determined that Londoners get the same opportunities this great city gave me. That is why I am setting up my Homes for Londoners team to speed up homebuilding and to move towards 50 per cent of new homes in London being genuinely affordable to rent and buy.”

A review of capacity and skills across the GLA will now get underway. Its aim is to ensure the ‘Homes for Londoners’ team can play a more active role in the delivery of housing, particularly in bringing forward public land in London, and speeding up the planning process. This may also lead to additional expertise and support being recruited into the team in due course.

David Montague, Chair of the g15, said: “The Mayor of London has made housing a priority from day one, and we have been working with James Murray on a new strategic housing partnership.

“Homes for Londoners will bring together the GLA, housing associations, local authorities and housebuilders to tackle the capital’s housing crisis.

“The priority now must be to build a long-term pipeline of clean serviced and consented land.  With this we can guarantee apprenticeships, jobs, economic growth, thriving communities and affordable homes.  Without it, London will lose out in the competition for investment and growth.”

More affordable homes for Fort William

The Scottish GovernmentNew affordable homes will be built in the Fort William area as a result of the Scottish Government investing over £2.5 million in charitable bonds.

Charitable bonds are ethical financial products – no profit is taken by Allia, a social investment charity who issues the bonds on the Scottish Government’s behalf. Allia have provided Lochaber Housing Association with a loan of over £2 million.

The interest on the loan, over half a million pounds, is converted into a charitable donation, which the Scottish Government gives to housing associations for the construction of new social housing

There has been considerable success with previous charitable bonds that have been issued with total investments now over £40 million.

This seventh bond provided development finance for 581 affordable homes, and generated over £9 million for charities of which £6.7 million will go towards the construction of new social housing.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said:”Good quality, affordable housing is essential to help attract and retain people in Scotland’s remote and rural communities.

We have committed to deliver 50,000 more affordable homes over the next five years, backed up with investment of more than £3 billion. Announcements such as this one today marks another step on road to delivering that pledge.

Innovative financing schemes such as charitable bonds play a major role in helping us deliver this major expansion in housing supply. We invested £25 million last year and have committed to invest the same again this year and we remain the only Government in the UK to do so.

Through these bonds we are also maintaining Scotland’s leadership in financial innovation, working with partners to deliver more for less public investment.”

Go-ahead for 188 homes at major Mill Hill development

Go-ahead for 188 homes at major Mill Hill developmentWillmott Residential’s expansion in London continues with Barnet Council giving its residential brand Prime Place the go-ahead to build 188 new homes in Mill Hill.

The company secured approval on a reserved matters application for its development called Prime Place, Millbrook Park, which will create 159 homes for private sale, together with 29 homes for affordable rent.

The wider 2.7 acre scheme at Millbrook Park, a popular new community, will provide 2,174 high-quality homes in a superb landscaped parkland setting, together with shops, offices and a new primary school.

Designed by renowned architects Broadway Malyan, Prime Place, Millbrook Park will be in a mix of one and two-bedroom apartments and penthouses, together with a small number of three and four-bedroom houses.

Maximising the use of the naturally sloping terrain, the design includes a large terraced parkland garden at the heart of the scheme for all residents to enjoy.

Residents also benefit from underground parking and a low carbon district heating system. The homes are a short walk from Mill Hill East underground station and less than nine miles from central London.

Brian Brady, managing director Prime Place: “Millbrook Park is an ideal fit for Prime Place’s strategy of providing outstanding homes in popular locations and close to excellent transport links. We are delighted to achieve approval from Barnet Council and anticipate starting work on site very soon.”

Prime Place, Millbrook Park underlines further Willmott Residential’s growing presence, developing homes for sale through Prime Place and for private rent through be:here, with 5,000 units on site or in planning.

In addition, Willmott Partnership Homes builds 2,000 homes a year with an expanding geographic presence and strong client base that includes housing associations, developers and local authorities.

Faster planning helps the building trades

Regeneration scheme to deliver thousands of new properties and jobsThe average time for a planning decision to be made on major developments has fallen by 17% on the previous year, paving the way for the building trades.

Annual statistics published this week show decision times for local and major applications have reduced, meaning more housing and business developments can start to build sooner.

Planning Minister Kevin Stewart welcomed the statistics, but said more must be done to improve planning performance.

The average decision time for major developments in 2015-16 reduced by more than 6 weeks on the previous year, while major housing development decisions are now almost two weeks faster than in 2013-14.

Decisions made on local housing applications also reduced by almost a week compared to the previous year.

Mr Stewart said:“Effective planning is crucial to promoting sustainable economic growth and ultimately to helping build more homes. Speeding up the planning system is a vital part of this.

“These statistics are very encouraging, particularly at a time where we are looking at the best ways to reform and improve our planning system.

“The reduction in decision making timescales can only be a good thing – it means we are open for business and helping create certainty within the building sector.”