Delivery Approaches – Affordable Housing Provision

The Assignment

The Royal Borough of Greenwich (the Council) is assessing how best to meet its affordable housing requirements through a new build programme.  Currently, the Council predominantly addresses this new build delivery programme through two approaches: 

  1. The Local Authority New Build Programme, a housing delivery programme within the Housing Revenue Account (HRA), utilising HRA land, Right to Buy (RTB) receipts and HRA resources.  These units are built and managed within the HRA for the benefit of tenants on the Council’s waiting list; and
  2. Through its Community Benefit Society (CBS), Meridian Homes Start (Meridian), an arm’s length body that seeks to provide high-quality affordable homes for local working families to rent. Homes are available to working Greenwich residents at discounted rents who would otherwise find it hard to buy or rent on the open market.   

The Council sought to assess these arrangements and investigate others in the market to ensure that the delivery approaches were fit for purpose and represent the best way of supporting its overarching objectives for its housing delivery programme both in terms of the delivery of affordable housing and meeting broader housing need.

The Role

31ten initially provided the Council with a report that set out in detail a number of approaches that could be used to fund the delivery of more affordable housing within the borough.  Once these approaches had been workshopped the Council requested that a more detailed review on the following approaches was undertaken: 

  • An expansion of the HRA new build programme;
  • General Fund led acquisition programme, focusing on alleviating temporary accommodation pressures;
  • The use of a new Community Benefit Structure with objectives that differ yet complement Meridian;
  • Setting up a new Registered Provider; and
  • Setting up a new partnership structure. 

Key Outcomes

The paper produced and discussions had highlighted significant questions regarding what the core objectives the Council is looking to achieve through an alternative housing delivery route.  As a direct result, the Council paused to take a more depth review into the needs within the borough including the profile of those people on the housing waiting list and longer-term view on housing estate renewal.

Work is also now being undertaken on the ‘affordability’ question, which was highlighted by the heatmap in the report.  It varied considerably across the borough, and highlights issues with a 65% market rent policy, especially when coupled with site availability.