Over the past few weeks we have heard a lot from Richard Kemp about housing in the City.  From a man whose own past is littered with spectacular housing failures, this is rich indeed.  But for the record, let me just put him straight about the benefits of our Strategic Housing Delivery Partnership.

The Strategic Housing Delivery Partnership is a fully procured relationship between Liverpool City Council, Redrow Homes and Liverpool Mutual Homes – the City’s largest social landlord.

It is a partnership designed to deliver solutions to a range of problems facing the City:

  • The City has a shortage of homes and private developers are simply too slow to develop to meet our needs unless they have clear impetus from the Council
  • The City needs better quality social housing and, at a time of massive Government grant cuts, this is becoming harder and harder to provide
  • The Council lacks the high quality, executive homes which it needs to provide a truly balanced housing market – without those homes we will never be able to provide the choice that people need
  • The Council is too reliant upon low Council Tax band housing. The City needs better quality homes to balance out our Council Tax base.

The Strategic Housing Delivery Partnership is, in many ways, a simple and pragmatic approach to these complex housing problems.

The City Council provides the land. Redrow develops out a range of identified sites on a commercial basis, bringing new, high quality homes into the City to meet growing demand.  The City takes the profits from those land deals, including an overage, and reinvests that money into new and refurbished social and affordable housing delivered by the City’s largest social landlord, Liverpool Mutual Homes.

It is a process which will deliver 1,500 new units across the City over a four-year period.  Six hundred of those homes already underway.

This is a relatively simple process but it offers a wide range of benefits:

  • It allows the Council to develop out our assets through a pre-agreed legal mechanism. Partners who are contractually committed to us even before individual site negotiations begin.
  • It allows us to bring executive homes to market in areas of the City which private developers would not normally consider viable. By taking a portfolio approach we encourage Redrow to spread their risk across a much broader range of sites and so enable the developer to take chances which individual sites would never warrant in isolation.  Over the past eighteen months we have agreed deals for Redrow to develop high cost, exclusive homes in the historically deprived North of Liverpool and, despite some initial market scepticism, the product has been well received and is proving popular.  So popular in fact that it has sparked interest from other developers in nearby sites not owned by the Council.
  • In a world now free of genuine Government social housing subsidy, we are recycling our profits into a new investment stream for social and affordable housing.
  • We have been able to breathe new life into older and even abandoned housing stock such as the development at Marwood Towers – a mothballed 1960’s tower block brought back into use as high quality and secure housing for older residents.
  • SHDP also gives us a clear and commercial relationship with the City’s main social landlord. In these days of de-regulation and the growing commercialisation of housing associations, having a clear means to influence how our RSL partners invest and prioritise becomes of increasing importance.
  • And of course, with a clear four-year programme of development, we are able to maximise the opportunity this presents for the local supply chains, local employment and the creation of apprenticeships.

Obviously, the partnership still has some way to go and it remains in relative infancy.  We have many more sites to build out, many more schemes to work through and bring to market.  But as you will see from the video we have produced, the signs so far are very good that this will be a gamechanger for the City.

But, of course, the Strategic Housing Delivery Partnership is just one element of the many interventions we are using to tackle the problems faced by Liverpool’s housing market.

In fact we have five other housing partnerships which are developing across the City.  Successors to the last Labour Government’s Housing Market Renewal Programme, these are major housing regeneration schemes which are busy refurbishing and rebuilding some of our most deprived of communities.

These development partnerships have helped us deliver over 5000 new units in the City in the past four years with a further 5000 already on-site.

We are also busy working with partners in the community regenerating the Granby Four Streets area, a scheme which made headlines last year by winning the Turner Prize.  And we have recently gone on-site in the Welsh Streets, refurbishing a range of nineteenth century tiny, terraced houses into high quality, thermally efficient modern homes in which any of us would be happy to live.

We have introduced an Empty Property team who have brought nearly three and a half thousand homes back into use across the City in the past four years.

We have created a Homes for £1 scheme which is helping over 120 families get their first foot on the housing ladder.

Liverpool is now the only city in England to have city wide Landlord Licensing – ensuring that all of our landlords meet and remain committed to a set of decent standards and reasonable personal conduct.

And I could talk about our approach to healthy homes, the work we are doing to link housing and health or even the way we are now working closely with our surrounding local authority partners to develop a cross boundary housing.

Labour’s track record of Housing success in this City is more than impressive.  Our advice and experience is being sought from Lille to Belfast, Edinburgh to London.

It is a track record which puts a decade of Lib Dem failure to shame – a decade which Richard Kemp is keen to forget. Try getting him to talk about the Boot Estate.

Ours is a successful housing policy which Richard Kemp can only envy and that is why he is so busy spreading rumour and speculation in order to detract from reality.

When Labour inherited this City, our housing market was stalled and our housing future was bleak because of Lib Dem ineptitude and a lack of aspiration. We don’t claim to have all the answers, but we are facing the challenges head on. We are building a future for our citizens in the face of the austerity, inflected on us by the Lib Dems during the 5 long years that they acted as willing supporters of a Tory led Coalition Government.

 

Frank Hont

Cabinet Member for Housing


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