More affordable housing approved

House building starts hit 7-year highThe number of affordable homes in Scotland has increased by 26% on the previous year, bringing the total number of approvals over the year to 8,067.

Official statistics published this week show that during 2015-16, the number of new house builds started, across the public and private sector, rose to 16,910, a 4% increase on the previous year and the highest number of starts since 2008-9.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart said the figures showed good early progress towards delivering the Scottish Government’s ambitious target of delivering 50,000 affordable homes over the next five years.

Speaking ahead of a visit to a new housing development in Edinburgh which will provide 236 affordable homes in the city, Mr Stewart said: “We have an excellent track record on housing. The number of affordable home completions from April 2007 to end March 2016 was 60,704 – on average 24% more per year than the 38,015 delivered between April 2000 and March 2007.

“In the previous session of Parliament, we exceeded our target of delivering 30,000 affordable homes, and our bold and ambitious More Homes Scotland approach will build on that achievement.

“We have committed to investing over £3 billion to deliver at least 50,000 affordable homes over the next five years. This is accompanied by increased housing subsidy levels and a new Rural Housing Fund to boost the supply of affordable rural housing.

“We’ve also helped stimulate growing confidence in the private housing market and supported people into home ownership, in particular through our £500 million Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme.”

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.

Affordable homes target exceeded by 10% in Scotland

Government welcomes house building boostThe Scottish Government has exceeded its 30,000 affordable homes target by more than 10 per cent, according to official statistics released for the first time this week.

Over the last Parliamentary term, 33,490 affordable homes were delivered while helping economic growth and boosting the construction trades.

The rate of house building completions across all sectors puts Scotland in the lead of every other country in the UK, with more completions than Northern Ireland for the first time since 2006.

The statistics follow the First Minister’s commitment to increasing the supply of homes even further by setting a new target of delivering at least 50,000 affordable homes, backed by more than £3 billion investment, by the end of this parliament.

Housing Minister Kevin Stewart welcomed the statistics while visiting a new affordable housing development by Castle Rock Edinvar in Wester Hailes.

He said: “Our investment of more than £1.7 billion, as well as the re-introduction of council house building, has meant high quality, energy efficient, affordable homes have been built the length and breadth of the country.

We are building at a rate faster than anywhere else in the UK, and in fact since 2007 we have built over 41,000 more homes than would have been built at England’s lower per-capita rate. That’s the equivalent of a new town the size of Paisley.

Not only do these numbers show we have more than achieved our targets, but they also tell us approvals for affordable homes have increased by 26 % in the 12 months to March.

This marks an excellent start to being able to deliver our new, higher target and help supply the homes people and communities need.”

Affordable homes and new library for Ponders End

Affordable homes and new library for Ponders EndThe building of 167 new energy efficient homes, together with a replacement library and a high-quality commercial space, in Ponders End have been given the go-ahead.

Construction works were celebrated last week in Ponders End during a joint visit arranged by Enfield Council and developer Lovell.

The £46 million ‘Electric Quarter’ scheme, which has been co-ordinated by Enfield Council,  is due for completion in early 2019 and will see the former Middlesex University site in Ponders End High Street transformed with new homes along with shops and other commercial units.

Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Regeneration & Business, Cllr Alan Sitkin, said “This fantastic scheme will help provide work and training for local people and will make Ponders End an even more attractive local shopping area.

It’s great to hear that Lovell is providing up to 14 work experience and construction apprenticeships opportunities on this scheme and that at least 30 per cent of its construction workers are going to come from the local area.”

Lovell Regional Director Michael O’Farrell said “We’re proud to be bringing our expertise in mixed-use regeneration to this important scheme which is delivering modern and attractive affordable and open market sale homes for Enfield, alongside new retail and commercial and community facilities as well as important legacy benefits in the shape of job and training opportunities for local people.”

£406 million for affordable homes

The Scottish GovernmentAll 32 of Scotland’s councils will share £406 million in grant subsidy in 2016/17 to deliver more affordable homes, over £100 million more than last years’ allocation.

It is part of the Government’s overall investment of over £572 million to the Affordable Housing Supply Programme (AHSP) in 2016/17, the funding is allocated for each local authority area, which the Scottish Government refers to as Resource Planning Assumptions (RPAs).

The remaining £166 million will be managed centrally, with £80 million already announced to help up 2,000 first time buyers under the Open Market Shared Equity Scheme. The rest will go to other projects that promote innovation, greener homes and the Home Owners’ Support Fund.

The overall funding will support delivery of between 8,000 – 9,000 affordable homes, the first part of a £3 billion investment to deliver 50,000 homes by 2021, and an increase of 28% more homes than the average output in the last two years.

In addition to knowing their planning assumptions for 2016/17 Councils also need as much advance notice as possible of their full RPAs for 2017/18 and beyond.

The Scottish Government is now committed to a new offer of five year resource planning assumptions for councils following the 2016 Spending review.

Housing Minister Margaret Burgess said: “Councils and registered social landlords are crucial to delivering the ambitious target of at least 50,000 affordable homes across Scotland over the lifetime of the next Parliament.”

Measures unveiled to accelerate house building

House BuildingA new £50 million infrastructure fund will speed up construction of thousands of new affordable and private homes, Social Justice Secretary Alex Neil has announced.

The flexible grant and loan fund will help unlock strategic housing sites of importance to local authorities to increase the scale of housing delivery.

The fund forms part of a package of measures to support the increase in supply of homes across all tenures.

Key to this overall approach is the Scottish Government’s five year commitment to delivering at least 50,000 affordable homes, 70 per cent for social rent, backed by investment of over £3 billion.

Building on the success of the National Housing Trust new financing mechanisms are also being explored to expand mid-market rent developments.

All planning appeals for housing proposals of more than 100 units will now be recalled to ensure housing land supply issues are given ministerial scrutiny.

During a visit to Clyde Valley Housing Association’s new development in Kilsyth, Mr Neil said: “Today’s announcement underlines this Government’s determination to increase the pace and scale of development to deliver more homes across all tenures.

The £50 million infrastructure fund will help unblock sites that are strategically important to councils and that have the potential to accelerate the delivery of thousands of new homes across the country.”

Tom Barclay, co-chair of the Joint Housing Policy Delivery Group, said: “This announcement by the Cabinet Secretary on infrastructure support is one of a series of actions that is signalling a step change in Scotland to prioritise the building of new homes.

“As Co-Chair I hope I can speak for all the Group members in saying that we stand ready to work in partnership with the Scottish Government to take up the challenge in providing the much needed additional, affordable and high quality housing, that will not only help revitalise communities across the country, but will also make a significant contribution to the Scottish economy and our long term prosperity.”

Wates set to build on £18m former Dudley Hospital site

Wates set to build on £18m former Dudley Hospital siteWates Living Space has started work on the £18 million site of the former Guest Hospital on Tipton Road in Dudley, where it is set to build 157 new homes in partnership with the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA).

Wates Living Space will create a combination of 127 new build homes and 30 refurbished properties, including restoration of the locally listed former porter’s lodge, which sits on the site and is under ownership of the HCA.

Designed by architect, Armstrong Burton, 118 homes will be sold on the open market and 39 will be available for rent through Dudley MBC, following completion in summer 2019.

In an effort to positively impact the area Wates Living Space has committed to employing local suppliers and contractors on the project whilst also creating employment and training opportunities for local people. 

Cllr Gaye Partridge, cabinet member for housing at Dudley Council, said: “This is an extremely welcome and exciting regeneration project. It will enable the provision of more affordable housing for our residents and bring an historic building back into use offering luxury apartments.

This development compliments the regeneration of the area offering a significant economic and social boost to the local community.”

Mace to deliver LSE’s Centre Buildings Redevelopment Project

Mace appointed to deliver LSE’s Centre Buildings Redevelopment ProjectThe London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) has appointed Mace as Design and Build contractor to deliver its new state-of-the-art Centre Buildings Redevelopment.

The £123 million project, which is set to be completed by November 2018, will be LSE’s largest ever redevelopment and will provide a world class teaching and learning environment for students and staff.

The redevelopment is in the heart of the School’s Aldwych campus and involves the construction of connected thirteen storey and six storey towers, incorporating lecture theatres, study areas, academic staff offices, a café/learning commons and a series of landscaped roof terraces.

A central feature of the redevelopment, designed by renowned architects Roger Stirk Harbour + Partners, is the creation of a new central plaza, enhancing public as well as academic space.

A focus on sustainability will be a key element of the design with an aspiration to achieving an outstanding BREEAM rating. Levels 2-13 of the new buildings will rely on natural ventilation and cooling through a complex external façade, solar shading and the use of exposed pre-cast soffits.

In addition, the new towers will include bi-fuel CHP, photovoltaics, rainwater harvesting and a useable roof top green space.

The redevelopment will require demolition of four existing buildings, a process which started in June 2015. Following the demolition, construction is expected to start in July 2016. 

Julian Robinson, Director of LSE Estates, said: “The construction of the CBR is the tallest, largest and most expensive project for LSE, which will dramatically enhance the learning environment for our staff and students.

Undertaking a complex project of this size and scale requires a significant degree of technical expertise which is why we are pleased to have appointed Mace to deliver this exciting new development.”

Business Unit Director for Public Sector at Mace, Terry Spraggett said: “We are delighted to be working with LSE to deliver not only their biggest ever development but also a project which will positively shape the learning environment for students for years to come.”

Bouygues UK gets major London regeneration scheme

Bouygues UKThe first construction contract for an ambitious regeneration project in Barking, being jointly delivered by East Thames and the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham (LBBD), has been awarded to Bouygues UK.

East Thames and LBBD are renewing the eastern end of the Gascoigne Estate in Barking, with shared responsibility for funding, design, construction and maintenance.

Bouygues UK has been appointed to deliver the first 190 homes as part of Phase One of the project, as well as the construction of an energy centre. Altogether, the contract represents a value of approximately £41.5 million.

The beginning of this first phase represents a major milestone in the overall Gascoigne East Masterplan which will create 1,575 new homes, a secondary and primary school, green spaces and community centre over the next nine years.

East Thames Director of Development, Trevor Burns, said: “Bouygues UK has a wealth of experience in delivering large scale regeneration projects and we’re confident that they will support us to deliver a very high quality product for Gascoigne East.

We’re delighted that the first phase of the masterplan has already won an award for its innovative design. The project is a testimony to successful partnership working and we’re looking forward to delivering it hand in hand with the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.”

Commenting on the new contract, Bouygues UK Managing Director for Housing London, John Campion, said: “We have a strong presence in Barking and Dagenham through our existing relationship with the council, which has also seen us working on the mixed-use scheme on London Road and the Creative Ice House Quarter development at Abbey Road.

We’re very happy to be working with East Thames and LBBD as part of the overall masterplan to regenerate Gascoigne Estate, as well as increasing our contribution to the wider regeneration of the borough as a whole.”