I have spent today at the National Housing Federation annual conference in Birmingham. I rarely go to conferences like this, but this year, in a few minutes, I am speaking on BHT’s shipping container homes project at Richardson’s Yard in Brighton.
What always strikes me about events like these is the difference between my reality, working for a housing and homelessness charity like BHT, and the ‘big boys’ in the housing association world. I am left with the view that the large social housing providers must show more imagination and innovation in order to respond to the growing housing crisis facing Britain.
Most developing housing associations are good at providing good quality homes and the tax payer gets good value for money for the investment in homes for rent. That value is lost immediately when homes built with public subsidy are sold into private ownership.
Where many developing, large housing associations are letting us down is their increasing commercialisation. This results in land standing idle for too long, and difficult to develop sites are ignored.
Social housing providers must show more imagination and innovation in order to respond to the growing housing crisis facing Britain. Each and every available site must be used to deliver the homes we so desperately need.
Richardson’s Yard is a perfect example of what can be achieved. The land is only available for five years. It could have been left as a tatty former scrap metal yard come car park. Thirty six men and women could have remained without a home.
Instead we have provided high quality, short life housing. As a small housing association, BHT was willing to take the risk, alongside our development partner, QED Property Ltd., to develop these homes.
Where are the large associations who can do something imaginative like this without breaking sweat?
Many have lost their heart and soul, forgetting why they were founded. They know the price of everything but the value of little. They really must step up to the plate and deliver small schemes as well as their more traditional large developments.
I might just change my presentation and spend the next hour having a rant ….