We are a national organisation - but it is the places that matter

28 Feb 2019

In our latest guest blog Tom Walker, Deputy Chief Executive, Homes England explains how the  government’s housing accelerator is doing things differently.

 

At Homes England we’re shaking things up – doing things differently so we can deliver the homes our country needs.  

The government has a clear ambition to increase levels of housebuilding and deliver 300,000 new homes a year on average, and we’re committed to accelerating construction in areas where demand is acute, to help create great places.

But we need to make sure the support we provide is right for each local area. As part of our strategic plan, launched at the end of 2018, we spoke about being committed to a place-based approach, working alongside civic and business leaders, combined authorities, county, borough and district councils and local enterprise partnerships.

And we’ve made rapid progress. Just last month we began moving our staff into shared offices with Liverpool City Region Combined Authority; the first such arrangement in the country. By co-locating, we’re not only demonstrating our commitment to a place-based approach, but ensuring our experts can work hand-in-glove with local specialists to make homes happen at pace.

Similarly, in the midlands, we’re establishing a joint delivery team with the West Midlands Combined Authority to align our investment and expertise to increasing housing supply, boosting the proportion of affordable housing, and acquiring and assembling land. Nearby, we’re trialling office space in Coventry – at the very centre of the country – to see whether this could work as our new national HQ.

Further south, in Cambridgeshire, we’ve long been working on the country’s newest town – Northstowe. Providing up to 10,000 homes, this is a key priority for Homes England. So much so in fact, that we’re constructing our own offices on-site – show-casing modern methods of construction and providing a base for our experts at the heart of the action.

And our approach extends beyond physical locations and new offices. For example, the Strategic Partnerships we have formed with 23 housing associations since July 2018 mark the start of a new way of working between Homes England and our partners. These partnerships show our determination to combine ambition, flexibilities and the full range of our resources to change the way we deliver affordable homes locally.

We know we need to make sure the support we provide is right for each local area and that we work with partners to understand not only the needs of a place, but also the barriers that will prevent necessary development from happening, such as planning challenges and insufficient infrastructure.

We might be a national organisation but – as our strategic plan explains – it’s the places that matter. And we’re determined to be different to make homes happen