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NHBC panel discusses key challenges during CIH annual conference

Pat Ritchie has revealed that of 140 organisations committed to the Affordable Homes Programme (AHP), only 21 are still to sign contracts (as at 13 June) - mostly local authorities adapting to self-financing changes.

The chief executive of the HCA was talking at NHBC¿s panel during the CIH annual conference in Manchester. The post-2015 programme is dependent on the outcome of the next spending review but is expected to again leverage assets. A return to extensive grant-funding is unlikely.

L&Q's Jerome Geoghegan explained their £1.25 billion development programme and called for "Local authorities to review their shopping list of planning conditions" to help viability. He also expressed concern that some communities "feel they have a divine right to object to development on their patch". Based predominantly in London and the South East, L&Q is keen to maximise the asset value of prime sites to aid discussions with bond investors. That may mean offering additional affordable homes on other sites.

Delegates heard Dr Ashley Lane of Persimmon recognised the transition from one funding programme to the new AHP, but called for HCA contracts to be more flexible, given the potential changes during the 12-18 month gap between bidding for funding and starting on site.

Delegates and the panel all agreed on the current challenges, namely:

  • Time is needed for the NPPF to bed down, and interpretation will vary across local authorities;
  • Overlapping regulations increase costs and mean fewer units can be built
  • Mortgage finance is holding back purchases
  • Local authorities need to approach viability discussions 'sensibly'.

News Date: 04/07/12