We need to get creative to tackle the housing crisis
It’s one of those words that pop up in almost every housing conversation I have at the moment. That hasn’t always been the case but there is a growing consensus that we all need to be ambitious to tackle the housing crisis, and provide the best homes and housing services for our residents.
L&Q have, for our part, always been highly ambitious and our newly published corporate plan reaffirms this: We are ambitious in how much we will invest in our existing homes. We are ambitious in improving the services we provide to our residents and our communities. And we are ambitious in our plans to deliver affordable homes in response to the housing crisis.
As one of the UK’s leading housing associations we have the expertise and capacity to deliver on these ambitions. But we are also aware we are only one part of the housing jigsaw and that is why we are committed to working with a range of strategic, joint venture, and local partners to guarantee more investment in homes, communities, jobs, and economic growth for years to come.
Our strategic partnership with the GLA, for example, will see £8 billion invested in 20,000 homes in London, of which up to 60% will be genuinely affordable. Furthermore, this partnership allows us to invest in developing construction skills and training. We also work with a range of joint venture partners, including all the major house builders, in order to deliver new homes.
We are very aware though that we are in a privileged position. Our financial strength and size means we are able to work with these organisations to realise our ambitions and to drive towards our fundamental vision of everyone having a quality home they can afford. But what about those like-minded organisations that need assistance to realise their ambitions? That’s where, as a sector, we could do with thinking more creatively. And L&Q are happy to be blazing a trail on this.
The L&Q Foundation recently announced a ground-breaking £100 million initiative initially starting with nine BME housing associations, and supported by the GLA, to unlock small sites across the capital and deliver up to 1,000 affordable homes a year for Londoners.
To deliver this, we will be developing a brand new specialist team within L&Q to procure land and develop these homes, as well as identifying opportunities for infill and redevelopment.
L&Q has the development expertise - from land and planning to construction and delivery - the finance, and the procurement advantage. We are now able to share these with like-minded housing associations, which will in turn help them build up the necessary expertise and governance to manage their own development programmes in the future.
As we develop closer relationships with these smaller housing associations we will also be able to work with them to explore other areas that we can deliver greater results on such as community investment, housing services, and local accountability.
Small or large, housing associations are all driven by our central mission to provide quality, affordable homes including for the most vulnerable in society and future generations. And we are committed to being long-term partners in the neighbourhoods where we work.
It is this cultural and social alignment that has allowed us to build this particular partnership, and which should pave the way for many more to come.
A version of this blog originally appeared in Inside Housing on 18 June 2018