March Overview – Lisa Broom
Spring has sprung, meteorologically-speaking, and I am sure we are all enjoying the recent warmer weather and sunshine. Spring promotes feelings of positivity and hope and is the season of new growth. Whilst the unseasonably good weather may not last long, let’s hope that we are indeed turning a corner and that those very important “green shoots of recovery” continue to grow.
Times have been tough and for many, still are, but as an industry we have shown resilience, adaptability and transformation. Let’s continue to build on this and work together to improve industry performance and each play our part in tackling the challenges faced by the sector, including the supply of high-quality new homes, construction skills and innovation, and action on climate change.
Homes England – the Government’s housing accelerator, tasked with Making Homes Happen – is focussed on increasing the supply of high-quality new homes and supporting the Government’s ambitions to Build Back Better. We will continue to build our capability to provide our partners with the certainty they need to keep building and growing their development pipelines, ensuring more people can access high quality new homes for rent and for homeownership.
We will soon be opening bidding on the £7.4bn portion of the £12.2bn affordable homes fund we are responsible for. Partners can now bid for funding on a scheme by scheme basis. This is the first fund to have been designed and launched since Homes England was created and a significant opportunity to explore new partnerships. We are keen to enter into new strategic relationships with housing associations and affordable housing organisations of all sizes, to maximise the impact of the fund but also to support our partners’ delivery objectives across the full breadth of our business.
As part of our commitment to promoting innovation and boosting productivity we continue to leverage and finance the use of MMC to improve productivity and help the sector reduce its carbon footprint. We are also ensuring developers consider health and active travel in their bids for our land and meet higher design standards. By focusing on design, innovation and sustainability, we are working to improve the built environment and drive better outcomes for communities.
We are continuing the transformation of Homes England to make our services more usable for our partners. Adapting and innovating ourselves is essential if we are to achieve our ambitions and transform the housing market. By improving our processes and streamlining our work, our transformation work is freeing us up to focus more of our time on the ground alongside local partners.
In July 2020 we published our first Equality Diversity and Inclusion report setting out the steps we will take as an agency to be the change we want to see in the sector. We want to be more inclusive and representative of the communities we serve and can only truly achieve that by creating a workplace – and an industry – where everyone is able to be themselves.
In November 2020, we updated the Homes England Land Hub – Land Hub (arcgis.com). Our Land Hub presents development sites that we plan to bring to market, unlocking the construction of thousands of new homes across the country.
In December 2020, we announced a new Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS). From July 2021 the DPS will replace the current Delivery Partner Panel (DPP3), changing how Homes England procures housebuilders, increasing flexibility and introducing a new more proportionate approach to ensuring partners’ ability to deliver homes on sites. Housebuilders will have the option to apply to join the DPS at any time as our pipeline of sites coming to market are publicised on the Homes England Land Hub or are brought forward by public sector landowners.
Although, as individuals and organisations, we all face different challenges; one thing is certain, we are all part of an exciting industry and through working in partnership and collaboration, we will Build Back Better. As a CESW Board member and Treasurer I would encourage you to make the most of CESW’s opportunities for influencing, networking and sharing. CESW is a not-for-profit membership organisation and I would take this opportunity to call on member organisations with overdue subscriptions to settle their accounts, so that CESW can continue to drive the change agenda and deliver excellence. Finally, a call to all non-members to join CESW, to participate, lead and benefit from CESW’s mission to deliver an industry of opportunity for all.
Lisa Broom BSc(Hons), MCIOB, AssocRICS
Senior Development Manager
Disposals – Central & West Development