District councils building more homes since HRA cap lifted

More homes are being built and planned for by more district councils in more places as a result of the lifting of the Housing Revenue Account cap.

A survey commissioned by the District Councils’ Network (DCN), in partnership with the Local Government Information Unit (LGiU), shows that building plans are already advancing for a third of stock holding districts. The remaining two-thirds are beginning to embark on plans to increase the supply of new homes, but need more powers and resources to effectively manage local housing markets.

The organisation’s report says that additional freedoms for non-stock holding councils could accelerate plans still further and argues that districts need support from government agencies to speed up development, and local control over the discount levels and the time period for retention of Right to Buy receipts.

John Fuller, chairman of the DCN, said: “All councils just want to get on and build homes people need. Stock holding authorities have had a head start in getting back into the housebuilding industry. HRA freedoms are a welcome start but the Government needs to allow us to go further. It must reform Right to Buy, implement a streamlined Compulsory Purchase Order process, introduce step-in rights to intervene on stalled proposals, and release Housing Infrastructure Funding to enable all areas to contribute to getting a roof over everyone’s head.”

Jonathan Carr-West, chief executive of the LGiU, said: “Today’s report highlights the great strides that district councils have made in rising to the housing challenges of the last few years. The scrapping of the HRA borrowing cap has opened many doors for District councils up and down the country to build and plan for new homes.

“And, while this should be celebrated, it is unacceptable that councils still have no clear indication about how they will be funded this time next year. This is a massive hindrance on their ability to further plan for the future and build the homes that are desperately needed in their communities.”