A report outlining how the Council will increase the number of affordable homes in Manchester is being heard by Economy Scrutiny committee this week (Thursday 5 September).
The report responds to policy ideas presented to the Council’s executive (Dec 2018) to increase the pipeline of affordable homes across the city to meet exceptional demand for housing.
The Council will commit to revising the overall number of homes to be delivered in the city from 20,000 to 32,000, meeting the right mix of housing to meet demand between April 2015 and March 2025.
At least 6,400 of these homes will be affordable to Manchester people – meeting the Council’s 20% affordable homes ambition for new housing delivery in the city. The ambition set out is that new affordable homes should be equally split between social housing, affordable housing and shared ownership properties.
Between April 2015 and March 2019, 1,044 new affordable homes were completed in the city, with a further 1,061 on site to be completed by March 2021 – with additional 969 in the pipeline (with land and funding secured) to be delivered by the same date.
Providing Council-owned land to support housing development will be an important resource. Current land assets could deliver 50% of the city’s 6,400 affordable homes target.
The Council will invest in the development of new affordable homes using the city’s Housing Revenue Account (HRA), which is currently funding 19 social rented homes and 60 new Extra Care homes as part of the Brunswick PFI.
In addition to these schemes a further £55m will be used to fund three affordable homes projects – the North Manchester New Build project, affordable homes development in Brunswick, including an Extra Care scheme, the Silk St project in Newton Heath and 130 social homes in Collyhurst as part of the first phase of the Northern Gateway programme – delivering 465 homes in the coming years when the funding is fully approved.
Strengthening existing partnerships with Homes England to maximise grant funding for home building, as well as key links to the city’s Registered Housing Providers as delivery partners that can unlock grant funding, will be the essential platform to deliver the Council’s affordable housing target of a minimum of 6,400 new homes over the ten years to March 2025.
The Manchester Housing Providers Partnership works closely with the Council to help meet the city’s housing challenges, and is linked to the Our Manchester strategy. These providers will deliver a significant proportion of the city’s future affordable homes, and are expected to help unlock around £380m in development funding between 2021 and 2025.
Housing Providers will also work collaboratively with the Council to deliver Project 500, a proposal that will build 500 affordable homes on small sites across the city (25 homes per plot) – bringing smaller, often more difficult, sites into use.
Working directly with developers, section 106 negotiations will continue with all planning applications measured against a starting target of 20% affordable homes. Where applications do not commit to this, developers will be required to include a public viability assessment – and a mechanism is now in place to review development profitability that will allow the Council to hold developers to account and claw back money if the development is more profitable than expected.
The Council’s Affordable Housing Fund – populated with s106 contributions – has already invested £2.4m into affordable housing in the city, with nearly £342k in the fund ready to use.
The Council is currently investigating the potential of Community Led Housing that allows residents to come together to lead the design and delivery of affordable new homes. The government has begun a three-year pilot that the Council expects to link into to support three trial plots in the city.
The Council is considering working with the Housing Providers partnership to buy back former council properties which were sold under the Right to Buy. (Full report in to a future Executive committee)
And feasibility studies on two sites in the two Manchester city centre wards to support a Council-built affordable home scheme are on-going.
Cllr Suzanne Richards, Manchester City Council’s executive member for housing and regeneration,said: “Manchester has undoubtedly been in recovery for some time following the financial crash in 2008, but we hope to see a high water mark of new affordable homes over the next two years.
“We want Manchester to be a place where our residents can live in the type of neighbourhood that they want, with sustainable, low-carbon homes and long-lasting communities. Housing is the bedrock of this and we need to commit to delivering the homes that meet the needs of Manchester people.
“These affordable housing targets are ambitious – as they need to be – and we will work closely with our housing partners across the city, and Homes England, to ensure we can make them a reality.
“Importantly for me, when the Council can use our own resources to build homes, these should be focused on delivering homes that are Local Housing Allowance or below to ensure they are accessible to those on the lowest incomes.”