HFi Today, May 2017


– Turning the Tide: Building a faster, stronger, new coastal renaissance

– Infrastructure challenges are a major barrier to housebuilding

– Innovation in renting and buying

– Housing a top priority for councils and metro mayors

– A few interesting statistics

Turning the Tide: Building a faster, stronger, new coastal renaissance


cover page turning the tide

Our latest report sets out the difficulties facing seaside towns and coastal communities in relation to housing deprivation.

Many of these areas have started turning the tide by decreasing housing deprivation and pushing housing led renewal. But there is much more to be done.

The report has three key recommendations:

Firstly, to attract new public and private housing investment and housebuilding into the most deprived areas. This will improve the local economy as well as creating more homeowners. It is possible to achieve this, if central Government and Homes England provide more financial and skills support for councils who have communities with small failed housebuilding markets. Including the successful coastal communities programme.

Secondly, a one-stop shop ought to be created for housing renewal powers. This will make implementing change quicker, simpler and more effective. The one-stop shop would provide a single and over-arching administrative process whereby councils can develop, consult and then implement relevant powers and actions. These powers and actions would relate to housing quality, planning, new housing, growth and tenancy management, within a specific housing renewal area. No longer would councils be required to use different processes and consultations, applying over different periods of time. This illogical outcome has occurred due to different powers being created at different times and in different pieces of legislation. A one-stop shop would solve this administrative burden.

Finally, a fair value rents regime is recommended for damaged housing markets in seaside towns and coastal communities. This would be time limited and apply in a tightly defined area where rent levels are defective. The fair value rents regime would be backed up by law and reflect both the quality and the location of the property. Not only would this ensure tenants pay a fair rent, but it would encourage landlords to invest in their properties, as landlords with better quality housing could charge higher amounts.

HFi Chief Executive, Natalie Elphicke, explained the rationale of the fair value rents proposal for Huffpost.

The HFi’s report was exclusively covered in The Times and widely reported by other news and trade press.

You can read the report in full by clicking here.

Infrastructure challenges are a major barrier to housebuilding



Natalie spoke at a Planning Futures event this week about local infrastructure. She was joined by Cian Bryan (Planning Futures), Scott Witchalls (Peter Brett Associates) and Alice Leach (London Borough of Barnet).

Local infrastructure was discussed in depth during the session. The importance of infrastructure was stressed by all contributors, and there was consensus that the current system could be improved.

Leadership is essential for efficient infrastructure planning. Where there is effective leadership, there is effective planning. And this leadership must be ingrained rather than temporary. Roles should not be assigned on an ad hoc basis when there is a large project in place, only to dissipate once the project has come to an end.

The discussion also revolved around practical solutions, something Natalie stressed in a recent article for PBC Today, in which she discusses HFi’s Housing Infrastructure Pilot. You can read more by clicking here.

Innovation in renting and buying


This week, Natalie hosted a ‘Dragons’ Den’ style session. She listened to a pitch from a company wishing to create an innovative new type of home ownership.

For many years, Natalie has been interested in new forms of home ownership, and encourages their use. The more forms of ownership we have – which is both fair to the purchaser and allows for high quality homes to be built – the better.

Housing a top priority for councils and metro mayors 


With all this talk of a General Election, it is important not to forget the hard work and central role councils play in ensuring homes around the country get built. Especially as there are six new elected metro mayors – after the recent local elections – with greater responsibility over housing and planning.

A few interesting statistics


  • Communities up and down the coast are set to benefit from a £40 million cash boost (Department for Communities and Local Government).
  • The Government’s ‘Forces Help to Buy’ scheme has assisted over 10,000 members of the Armed Forces since 2014.
  • The first quarter of 2017 saw the lowest quarterly rate of mortgages in arrears on record, with only 0.84% of all mortgages in arrears.
  • Every £1 spent on construction generates a further £2.09 on economic activity.
  • The Benefit Cost Ratio of spending on housing in returning economic and social benefits has been assessed in the range of £1.70 to £3.70 for every £1 spent.
  • Total social return on regeneration investment has been assessed at around £10 for every £1 spent.
  • Rents on new London tenancies fell by 1.2% in April compared with the same month a year ago. This is the first annualised fall in eight years.
  • More than 42,000 new homes were registered in the UK by NHBC in the first three months of 2017.
  • About 100 construction apprenticeships are expected to be secured in Cherwell over the next year due to the council’s work with developers.

The HFi has moved offices. We’re no longer at Layden House, we have moved to 77 Mansell Street, London, E1 8AN.