The Housing Task Force Service Lead’s report informed the Board of the Housing Task Force’s progress to date and outlined future plans for the delivery of affordable social housing across the district. The report set out progress so far and the options that were being explored:
· Recruitment – this had been a challenge, but there would soon be three members of the team in place.
· Exploring opportunities:
o Initial focus had been on land within the Housing Revenue Account.
o Council sites, not within the HRA were also being explored, with the potential for them to be transferred into the HRA for further housing use.
o The Task Force had publicised the desire to acquire development sites externally with land and estate agents.
o An informal offer had been made on a small piece of land in Axminster that could potentially facilitate a larger development in the future.
o It was intended to complete a new review of HRA garage sites, taking into consideration the new construction methods available.
o A spreadsheet of all opportunities was being kept. Following options appraisal and viability exercises these would either go forward on to the Development Pipeline Programme or be archived.
· Stock and estate regeneration – the stock condition survey underway would highlight areas within the portfolio that would greatly benefit from a stock regeneration programme. It was also hoped to utilise large gardens to provide additional new housing.
· Development models and methods of delivery – 3 garage sites in Honiton have been identified as having potential for redevelopment. To maximise the potential of the sites and for reasons set out in the report, the Task Force is looking at using a modular building method known as Volumetric MMC (Modern Methods of Construction). Early discussions are taking place with procurement professionals and ZedPods, a company with a proven record of carrying out meaningful community engagement throughout its developments.
· Options appraisal and financial modeller – discussions are taking place with two companies who provide specialist options appraisal and financial modelling software packages for use in social housing development. This forms a fundamental part of the Council’s internal due diligence, risk management and financial monitoring for opportunities explored and/or taken through to development.
· Business as usual – the team continues to do all the tasks that transferred over to it from housing.
Discussion included the following points:
· Compulsory purchase powers for acquiring land for social housing purposes would only be considered rarely and as a last resort, and negotiations would always take place first.
· South West Procurement Alliance is a procurement framework to which the Council subscribes which helps with procurement with a range of different contracts.
· Unless classed as sheltered housing schemes, new social housing would not be exempt from Right to Buy.
RECOMMENDED TO Cabinet:
· That approval be given for the Housing Task Force Service Lead, to complete discussions with the South West Procurement Alliance (SWPA) and ZedPods, for the purpose of procuring a contract to develop new housing on behalf of EDDC.