Downturn fails to cut land prices
Social housing providers in the north need better strategies to buy land as prices remain high, an umbrella body has claimed.
The cost of land in the three northern regions has gone up by 500 per cent since 1994, and both public and private land is proving difficult to access for housing providers.
The Northern Housing Consortium is working on a major government-sponsored research project on land suppy which is due to report in March.
Policy director Charlotte Howse told the Northern Housing Summit that land has remained expensive and social housing developers are facing trouble with supply.
‘We are not seeing land values coming down massively, I think because we have seen such a steep increase in values they would have to come down a lot. The strategy at the moment for developers is to offload property first rather than land,’ Ms Howse said.
‘We need to think how we can compete against private developers when values are at this high level.’
The consortium has published draft recommendations it hopes will help the housing sector, and requested feedback over the next six weeks.
The recommendations include agreeing a regional set of methods for assessing land availability, and encouraging public landowners to link their land policy to local needs – as bodies like the NHS often choose not to release land for affordable housing because they need to get the highest price for it.
Ms Howse also called for social housing developers to target private land, as there is only enough public land available for the next six or seven years in the northern regions.
Local authorities could enter into joint ventures with landowners to encourage them to release their land for development.
Ms Howse said the new Homes and Communities Agency could also help. She asked: ‘Given where we are economically, can we use some of their funds to landbank so when the upturn comes, we can then build?’