Corporation pushes on with ‘anti-competitive' pilot
The Housing Corporation has forged ahead with a pilot that could see one housing association awarded an ‘anti-competitive' contract to build all the affordable homes on large sites.
The agency announced last week it was inviting bids for a housing association or developer to build all the affordable homes on three large sites in the Cambridge area.
The winning bidder would be named as the preferred developer for the construction of all affordable homes on the sites for five years, subject to review.
Bidders are able to bid on up to three of the sites, but only have until 15 February to submit proposals to the corporation.
Landowners had already reacted furiously to the proposals when the idea was initially floated (Inside Housing, 31 August).
Andrew Whitaker, head of planning at the Home Builders' Federation, said the approach contradicted the competitive environment developers had helped the corporation to create.
‘We do think they have missed the point and we are quite disappointed with them,' he said. ‘It means you take all the competition away from the process and we have been trying to work with the Housing Corporation to introduce more competition.'
A letter from the HBF to corporation chief executive Jon Rouse in December urged it to abandon the pilot, branding it anti-competitive, Mr Whitaker added.
One developer, who did not wish to be named, said the corporation could face legal challenges over the appointment of the developer.
‘The greater probability is that [the corporation] will select someone that is unacceptable [to landowners] and the likelihood is that will delay the process and there may be legal challenges,' he said.
That would delay the process and stall the delivery of homes, he added. Developers that own land on the pilots have already been told by the corporation that they will not be allowed to be involved in the selection of the partner due to a possible conflict of interest (Inside Housing, 17 November).
Corporation deputy chief executive Steve Douglas insisted the project was a pilot that would be evaluated at the end of the process.
‘It is about testing a different way to make investment decisions by looking at the long-term benefits of early agreement with key players,' he said.