Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary memorandum by The Housing Corporation (NT 34(b))

A.  INTRODUCTION

  The Housing Corporation submitted a memorandum of evidence to the Sub-committee in March 2002. The Sub-committee has asked for responses to a series of supplementary questions. That response is provided below.

B.  SCHEDULE OF ADP ALLOCATIONS WITHIN NEW TOWNS 2001-02

  Question:  Could you provide a schedule of ADP allocations within the New Towns within over last 12 months, expressed as a percentage of regional allocation?

  Response:   The tables appended to this memorandum show the levels of allocation covered in the local authority areas within which New Towns fall. We have provided figures for three years (2000-01 to 2002-03) to provide a fuller picture. There are two points to note:

    (i)   not all New Towns are synonymous with local authorities. Some of the investment shown may not be invested in the New Town area within the local authority—so it is an indication of funding levels; and

    (ii)  these are allocation (start of year) levels. During the year, investment levels can change to reflect varying circumstances (for example schemes not progressing as quickly as expected). However, the allocation provides you with the strategic investment decision, which we think is most relevant to the Sub-committee.   

C.  USE OF DISCRETION WITHIN THE ADP

  Question:  Is the introduction of discretion on ADP going to affect the allocation to the New Towns in future?

  Answer:  Under our strategic approach to investment we work with local and regional stakeholders to identify priorities for investment in each regional investment area. These priorities are set out on a regional and sub-regional basis in our Regional Investment Strategies and they inform our allocation decisions. Where investment in a New Town will contribute to meeting regional and sub-regional priorities we will allocate resources to these areas.


D.  STOCK CONDITION

  Question:  Are you aware of any work on the stock condition of housing in any of the New Towns?

  Answer:  Stock condition is probably an issue in many if not all the new towns, if only because of a) the nature of their development—over a short period and often using (experimental) system-building techniques, b) the problems all authorities have experienced of funding maintenance and repair, which are exacerbated by a), and c) there will be condition issues in the owner-occupied stock, including Right To Buy properties, which will display similar funding issues to the private stock elsewhere.

  We are aware of planned activity simply through our knowledge and involvement in local authority strategies. However, detailed knowledge of actual practice on the ground tends to be held only where Corporation involvement and investment has been sought. An example of this is Telford, which not only seeks considerable investment in regeneration, but is also in need of housing market renewal.

E.  GOOD PRACTICE

  Question:  Can you identify any good practice in the development of housing and regeneration strategies in any of the New Towns?

  Answer:  Where we invest in a particular local authority area, we will look to see that the local authority has a strategy in place to ensure that our investment is supported. However, we do not evaluate local authority strategies. This is the role of the Government Offices which should be able to provide the Committee with information about strategies in New Towns areas.

F.  STOCK TRANSFERS TO RSLS

  Question:  Can you identify which of the New Towns have transferred their housing stock to a registered social landlord? Please specify the date and the number of units.

  Answer  The table below lists some transfers to RSLs which was provided by DTLR from their LSVT (large scale voluntary transfers) database. However neither the Corporation nor DTLR record information in the required format and thus this may not be complete.

  Basildon transferred 708 dwellings to the Vange Community RSL on 30 March 1998.

  Preston transferred 1,121 dwellings to the Collingwood Housing Association on 14 June 1999.

  Telford & Wrekin transferred 8,667 dwellings to the Wrekin Housing Trust Ltd on 25 March 1999.

  Question:  Are there any policy issues emerging in relation to existing or proposed stock transfers in the New Towns?

  Answer:  In general issues that arise in relation to existing or proposed stock transfers in the New Towns are similar to those affecting old transfers. Some of these are mentioned below.

  Issues would include:

    —  catch-up repairs within the rent restructuring regime (eg Telford);

    —  practical obstacles to regeneration where transfer and RTB have resulted in a pepper-potting of ownership (eg Basildon);

    —  need for remodelling of properties such as bedsit complexes where further public investment is forbidden (eg Basildon);

    —  anti-social behaviour and other problems of large-scale single tenure estates;

    —  decline of retail, community and other facilities within housing areas (eg Peterborough).

  The main additional difficulty relates to stock condition. As mentioned above, in some New Towns the council stock is proving difficult to renovate and this has implications both for achieving the decent home standard and for transfer.

G.  CLOSER WORKING RELATIONS BETWEEN HOUSING CORPORATION AND ENGLISH PARTNERSHIPS

  Question:  The review of English Partnerships explicitly mentions closer working relations between English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation. How do you see this evolving and what would the objectives of such joint working be?

  Answer:  The Housing Corporation and English Partnerships have had a protocol for joint-working, called a "Memorandum of Understanding", for some years. However, changes in the role and funding streams of English Partnerships since the introduction of Regional Development Agencies and the development of the Housing Corporation's strategic approach to investment mean that much of that protocol requires changing.

  For the past few months we have been working to develop a new memorandum. The purpose of the new document is to set out how our organisations will collaborate to achieve shared objectives and secure affordable housing and contribute to regeneration more cheaply and effectively than is now the case. This is particularly relevant following the recent decision that English Partnerships should focus on brownfield regeneration and also manage a national portfolio of strategic sites and demonstration projects.

  In general it will cover:

    —  the roles and responsibilities of our two organisations (but also other players like local authorities and housing associations) in both the provision of new affordable housing and regeneration projects; and

    —  the terms and conditions under which land, funds and other resources are made available.

  The detail will include :

    —  how we will collaborate on land and housing market intelligence, research and corporate planning to inform both our investment programmes. This will include use of the National Land Use Database, agreeing joint research programmes in areas of mutual interest and sharing corporate plans/discussing joint ventures;

    —  the way our resources will work together: housing Corporation ADP and English Partnership land to provide affordable housing. This will also cover the activities that the different agencies are prepared to fund;

    —  how grant clawback and restrictive covenants will be dealt with on sites where the two organisations are collaborating and expectations about the uses that recycled grant will be put to; and

    —  the priority projects that both agencies will work together on over a specific period (12 months or so).

  We have in practice already been collaborating and applying draft principles in three case study areas: Basildon, Milton Keynes and Telford. These are all New Towns and therefore this work may also need revising in the light of the decision that English Partnerships transfer its non strategic Commission for New Towns landholdings to the most appropriate bodies.

START OF YEAR 2000-01 ADP ALLOCATIONS FOR THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES WHERE THE NEW TOWNS ARE LOCATED

Region
Regional ADP AllocationUnits
LA Code

LA Name

Allocation

Units
% of LA against Region AllocationUnits
South East85,202,7243,787 294Bracknell Forest (Bracknell) 384,23790.45% 0.24%
275 Crawley773,35719 0.91%0.50%
319 Milton Keynes946,435 681.11%1.80%
South East Total 2,104,029 962.47% 2.53%
East Midlands31,501,365 2,208467Corby 153,53880.49% 0.36%
471 Northampton1,023,444 673.25%3.03%
East Midlands Total 1,176,982 753.74% 3.40%
Eastern46,365,0153,353 355Basildon2,003,555 744.32%2.21%
322 Dacorum (Hemel Hempstead)594,131 641.28%1.91%
362 Harlow845,29840 1.82%1.19%
339 Peterborough806,22838 1.74%1.13%
327 Stevenage664,69245 1.43%1.34%
330 Welwyn Hatfield521,383 1061.12%3.16%
Eastern Total 5,435,287 36711.72% 10.95%
West Midlands48,011,812 2,265505Redditch 992,510332.07% 1.46%
536 Telford and Wrekin (Telford)670,000 211.40%0.93%
West Midlands Total 1,662,510 543.46% 2.38%
North East21,394,0001,083 593Sunderland (Washington) 2,328,0009310.88% 8.59%
North East Total 2,328,000 9310.88% 8.59%
North West61,630,8642,794 627Chorley792,110 671.29%2.40%
632 Preston2,338,071155 3.79%5.55%
635 South Ribble (Leyland)452,455 180.73%0.64%
North West Total 3,582,636 2405.81% 8.59%
Merseyside22,537,894988 620Halton (Runcorn)817,524 223.63%2.23%
623 Warrington1,267,73043 5.62%4.35%
636 West Lancashire (Skelmersdale)507,982 192.25%1.92%
Merseyside Total 2,593,236 8411.51% 8.50%
Grand Total316,643,674 16,478 18,882,6801,009 5.96%6.12%




 
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Prepared 23 August 2002