Newgate in Housebuilder magazine: Innovation in Bristol Housing

The article below featured in the September edition of Housebuilder magazine.

Drew Aspinwall, account director at Newgate Communications in Bristol, says that the city has a reputation for dong things differently, with its multi-initiative approach to affordable housing proving to be successful.

Bristol is squaring up to its affordable housing crisis with a range of measures to meet the challenge faced by the city and the wider south west region. With over 10,000 people on Bristol City Council’s housing waiting list, Mayor Marvin Rees and cabinet member for housing Cllr Paul Smith have been leading the charge to find innovative ways to get affordable housing built.

Bristol’s overall focus is to look at creating sites where market rate, affordable and social housing are brought together within single smaller developments.

The council recently created a £57m affordable housing fund, available to developers to build affordable and council houses instead of market value houses or buy-to-lets.

In parallel, the council has also revised down its own 40% affordable target to 20%, a move designed to drive up overall delivery of affordable homes.

Its Affordable Housing Practice Note, published in May, stipulates that where developers agree to offer at least 20% affordable housing, planning applications will be fast tracked, on the proviso that work on site starts within 18 months.

The council is also using the sale of its own land holdings to negotiate deals ensuring affordable units are delivered.

It appears that this multi-initiative approach is starting to reap results. In November Bristol will have its first 100% affordable development. The site in Whitehall Road, which will offer 14 homes for local people and families, was originally earmarked to have just two affordable units.

The council’s own housing company then started to work with local housing association Curo, putting in £322,000 worth of its own funds, supplemented by an additional £520,000 grant from Homes England to Curo. The homes will be rented through Bristol’s HomeChoice scheme and the council already have similar developments in the pipeline.

The city already has a reputation for doing things differently and breaking new ground. If this momentum is maintained, Bristol may find itself leading the way in innovative delivery of affordable homes too.

Written by Drew Aspinwall
Account Director, Newgate South West

Download the entire September issue here

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