Countryside Properties and Home Group both have a very long track record of working in partnership with local authorities to regenerate housing estates. Between us we are currently working on a very substantial programme, with an established and growing number of joint ventures between our organisations.
In the last few years the focus of estate regeneration has widened to include the contribution that such projects can make to increasing housing supply. The current London Housing Strategy, for example, highlights the “vast development potential in London’s existing affordable housing estates”.
Despite this interest in estate densifcation, we were concerned that information on the physical capacity of London’s housing estates to generate additional homes and the likely fnancial viability of such schemes was lacking. We were therefore delighted to support Centre for London’s proposal for a project examining this issue in more detail.
It should be emphasised that the objective here has been to assess the theoretical contribution that London’s local authority housing estates could make to increasing the housing supply. We are very aware that no successful densification project can take place without the political will of the local authority, the necessary financial resources, and the support of existing residents. We believe that, when done well, estate densification projects can be hugely successful and beneficial for existing residents, local businesses and the local authority.
We very much welcome this report’s focus on the need for clarity and transparency regarding the financing of estate densification projects – and we equally welcome the GLA’s decision to produce a guide for London’s local authorities on the principles of successful estate regeneration.
We are encouraged by the first part of this report which indicates a physical capacity to provide between 80,000 and 160,000 additional new homes. This could make a significant contribution to London’s housing stock – up to 20 per cent of London’s annual additional housing target. The findings of the second part of the report are more challenging, and highlight the extent to which national policy can make estate densification a highly complex and increasingly costly process. Indeed, it is clear that the densification of many low-density estates in the outer suburbs will not be possible without public subsidy. If there is just one conclusion to draw from this very valuable report, it is that the enormous potential of estate regeneration can only be optimised by looking very hard at the financial mechanics of delivering it. This means looking in more detail at how such schemes can be funded, whether through cross-subsidy, including local-authority-led joint ventures, or public funding. We are confident that this report will make a meaningful contribution to the policy debate, and form the basis of further discussions to come.
Richard Cherry Chief Executive, Partnerships, Countryside Properties
Mark Henderson Chief Executive, Home Group