Social housing developments

One might have thought housing was a human right. Yet it appears that under Tory Austerity Britain those who are homeless are worthy simply of variable compassion – rather than a severe look at our economic system.

Nevertheless, finally, many councils have woken up to ‘other financial channels’, rather than being slavishly directed by government dictat.

So a bit of good news. Although the government has unceremoniously put up the interest rates of the Public Works Loan Board there are local authority bonds to take the strain. And with reliable bonds in fairly short supply I reckon this is distinctly good news…

This interesting, if lengthy, ‘Guardian’ article reports:

“We had people coming along trying to buy them when the hoardings came down,” says Charlotte Johnson, housing manager at Doncaster Council. They had to turn the crowds away – because these are council houses, some of the first built here for a generation. It is just one example of what many local authorities are now managing to achieve up and down the country, against the odds, after decades of central government inaction. Last week, the award for the best new building in the UK went to Goldsmith Street in Norwich, another exemplary development of council homes, marking the first time the hallowed RIBA Stirling prize has been given to social housing. The award sends a powerful message: despite government cuts, a number of bold councils are getting on and doing it for themselves.

Rotherham, which is currently building 340 new homes, with 200 more set to start next year, housing manager Tom Bell is frank. “We used to have 40,000 council houses,” he says. “Now it’s around 20,500. We’re losing up to 200 homes a year. It’s incredibly damaging because you lose your best properties and your most stable tenants. It can change the dynamic of a place very quickly.” “We’ve taken a similar approach to a speculative house builder, except we’re cutting out the profit,” says Matthew Clarkson, the New Zealander architect behind the new homes. “We realised that if we developed a series of standard house types, we could offer the economies of scale that a house builder would. But we’ve got more generous space standards and a higher quality specification to keep our long-term maintenance costs down.”

So it is to be profoundly hoped that literally all local authoritities are distinctly real partners in the Public Works Loan Board. That will strike an exciting blow for freedom and a blow too against centralisation…


  1. Andrew (Andy) Crow -

    Local Councils working for the good of their resident population instead of slavishly following central government diktat.

    Whatever next ?

    Maybe there is hope after all.

    1. Peter May -


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