Gloucestershire faces the 50,000 new homes challenge

More than 140 housing, construction and planning professionals attended a specialist event which examined the impact of the housing crisis on the delivery of affordable homes across Gloucestershire.

Coinciding with the publication of the Housing White Paper, the latest Let’s Talk Housing event was held in Cheltenham with a series of high profile speakers. The event also included workshops where high level delegates considered a range of issues including how to house older people, the next generation and smart homes.

The Lets Talk Housing event was organised and sponsored by seven local providers who’ve formed the Gloucestershire Homes and Communities Partnership (GCHP) to collaborate on tackling county-wide issues such as building 50,000 new homes in Gloucestershire.

The partnership consists of Severn Vale Housing, Two Rivers Housing, Cheltenham Borough Homes, Gloucester City Homes, GreenSquare Group, Merlin Housing and Stroud District Council’s housing team.

Let’s Talk Housing was chaired by Housing Quality Network’s Jon Land and included an assessment of the housing market in the South West with the Homes Truth report which was presented by Gill Payne, Director of Policy and External Affairs at the National Housing Federation.

The event provided a platform for senior figures from housing and care to debate issues arising from independent research commissioned last year by GCHP, which suggested the county needs an extra 50,000 homes by 2030 to meet predicted demand.

Tim Knight, Chief Executive of Severn Vale Housing, said: “From today, we have found a real enthusiasm to work together to face our housing shortage head on and to push this forward. This is just the start of our 50,000 homes challenge; we will need the ear of the Government and the Local Enterprise Partnership working together. We will feed back all of the findings from our day which will shape Gloucestershire’s future housing growth.”

Gill Payne, Director of Policy and External Affairs at the National Housing Federation, added: “What we’ve faced as a sector since Brexit has been tumultuous. With the Housing White Paper, following on from the Autumn Statement, I sense a genuine shift in attitude from the Government, as well as a positivity to work together from partners across Gloucestershire.”

Phil Brotherhood, of Let’s Talk Housing, said: “This was a fantastic day brimming with innovative ideas from high level figures in housing, who showed a determination to collaborate to solve the housing crisis.”

Jane Ashcroft, CEO of leading national housing and care provider Anchor Group, discussed innovative responses to issues affecting residents aged over 55. Speaking at the event, Tony Oakley, Head of Social Housing at Lloyd’s Bank, said there was a strong appetite from banks and investors to support social housing developments.

Stephanie Ainsworth, Senior Specialist - Home Ownership and Supply at the Homes and Communities Agency, highlighted collaborative housing delivery opportunities for providers and construction companies through the affordable homes programmes.

Ashley Green, CEO of Gloucester City Homes, closed the event and asked those interested in helping GHCP to deal with the challenge to get involved in some working groups which are being set up post event. More than 80 delegates signed up to help on the day.

Evidence from GHCP’s research included:
•    Great demand for one-bedroom homes.
•    More homes for social rent will be needed for older people, to meet demand from our ageing population.
•    There will be increasing demand for home adaptations, particularly to support older residents.
•    The number of private rented households varies greatly - from 21.5% in Cheltenham to just 11.2% in the Forest of Dean.
•    The number of households living in social landlord accommodation is well below the national average.
•    Opportunities lie in providing alternatives to residential care for older people, and helping to prevent hospital admission or medical intervention.

These findings support the results of the latest National Housing Federation’s ‘Home Truths’ report, which highlighted a housing crisis in the county.

Follow on Twitter @LetsTalkHousing and #newhomechallenge.