Four decades ago councils were responsible for the creation of 40% of all new houses. By the end of 2017 that had fallen to just over 2%. The ‘right to buy’ movement and the transfer of council properties to housing associations meant an overall depletion in housing stock. Most of the social housing in England now belongs to housing associations – 2.5 million as opposed to the 1.6 million council homes. However, just as they did a century ago, there are many who believe that councils could play a larger role in tackling the housing crisis.
Towards the end of 2018, PM Theresa May announced that the borrowing cap that had previously stopped councils from building in large numbers was to be lifted. She explained that the stigma about council houses was wrong, and regretted the fact that tenants could “feel marginalised and overlooked, and are ashamed to share the fact that their home belongs to a housing association or local authority”.
On the outside, many people in society – including too many politicians – continue to look down on social housing and, by extension, the people who call it their home.”
– Theresa May, Prime Minister
Not everybody agrees that housing associations and councils should be the ones to drive a new wave of housebuilding, with many thinking that reducing bureaucracy and changing the planning system would let private builders produce many more houses and flats. However, an Ipsos Mori survey for the Chartered Institute of Housing found that 60% of people supported the construction of new social housing in their local areas.
At ethical partnership, we hope that the councils and housing associations responsible for the building of new social housing consider utilising the Lifetime Homes scheme. A Lifetime Home follows 16 design criteria that provide the absolute model for building accessible and adaptable homes. From consideration of approach gradients, level entrance thresholds, through to reinforcement of ceilings and walls to allow tracking hoist routes and handrails, Lifetime Homes are ideal for those with additional physical and sensory needs – as well as supporting an ageing population and their carers. Contact us for more information.
Incorporating the Lifetime Homes standards into new social housing schemes would reduce the need for more complex future adaptations as well as give greater choice to those who cannot easily achieve independent living. Lifetime Homes rarely require greater space standards and should not impact on the overall density of a development. Furthermore, because of the way they are designed they often feel more spacious, a feature important in high density developments could increase value. This would also ensure that those with specialist needs have access to housing which can help them to live as comfortably as possible.
At ethical partnership we are passionate about meeting the needs of our entire population through the Lifetime Homes scheme and hope that councils and housing associations consider them for new social housing. We can review designs, train builders, and undertake site audits. Contact us today for more information and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to keep up-to-date with developments in the planning industry. You can also visit our new YouTube page to easily find all of our videos about planning, the environment and the services we offer.