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Inside Housing's Top Market Sale Developments 2015: Characteristics Of Exemplary Building

By Author: Bradley Weiss
Total Articles: 159

Housing associations and others are innovating on how to build social and market-rate homes together. Some of the best examples are profiled here.

Perhaps the silver lining of England’s housing crisis is how the need for more homes stimulates brilliant creativity. This comes from responsible council leaders, from architects, from housing associations and from those who finance all of the above.

Inside Housing, a periodical found online (InsideHousing.co.uk) has undertaken a review of creative developments from the previous year and compiled them into their “Top 60” list. Broken into ten categories, this article looks at their choices for market sale developments, which in most cases are social landlords who elect to develop for outright market sale, the proceeds from which cross-subsidise additional affordable development.

Those sources of financing - for example joint venture partnerships of land and housing developments - should take note. These are schemes that are reinventing concepts of how we live in the different phases of life. Several but not all of the highlighted developments below are in house-starved London, illustrating how affordable living can be achieved at a time and place when many believe it not possible. These are successful ventures as well, as the sales information indicates.

The selected homes developments in this market-sale category of excellence are:

Wandsworth (South London) - This 139-home development called The Schoolyard repurposes a bus depot that had previously been a school. Properties were divided into flats for private sale (119) and shared ownership (20), with one-bedroom apartments selling for £335,000 on up to £850,000 for three-bedroom apartments. These are priced for first-time buyer accessibility. A goal of the housing association was to sell to local purchasers, which proved to be the case in 95% of sales.

In London, the price of land is very often a barrier to affordable development. Strategic land partnerships consequently target cities and towns outside of London for higher returns on assets, but this development provides evidence that successful development on a not-for-dividend basis in the Capital City is still feasible.

Bourne, Lincolnshire - It is evident the movement to provide housing to healthy aging adults is picking up steam with The Croft Developments, 124 homes that are villas, bungalows and chalet bungalows. Owned by 55+ residents, they are strategically priced to be affordable to local buyers who do not want the demands of property maintenance and yet can appreciate landscaped courtyards and gardens.

Barkingside, East London - With a village green that recalls a predecessor development of homes built for a children’s charity, these 144 flats and houses (Barnardo’s Garden Village) also were designed to satisfy a mission to be affordable to local people. A senior policy officer from the British Property Federation pointed out that the sponsoring organisation, Barnardo’s, had never before functioned as a developer. The new houses replaced derelict buildings.

Hamworthy, Borough of Poole - The local authority accepted a lower price for the land it sold to the developer, a partnership that enabled building Old School Place to code for Sustainable Homes Level 4. The 30 units were built for £3.5 million, nine of which were open market sales, five made available for shared ownership and 16 are in the affordable rent category. Solar energy and mechanical ventilation heat recovery systems enabled the development to achieve its green status (bearing evidence that eco-features are possible even in an affordable housing context).

Coventry - While tiny (11 detached and semi-detached homes), Draycote Grange was built on derelict property by a partnership between social landlord WM Housing Group and its subsidiary Signature New Homes. This development cost £1.7 million and preserved an ancient hedgerow and an existing mature oak tree.

East London - What distinguish this 120-home development, Gunmakers Wharf, are the vegetated roofs that provide habitat to flora and fauna and reduce stormwater run off. Thirty of the units are offered for social rent, while 72 were sold at market-rate prices and 15 at market rent. NOTE: This development took first place in this category; according to judges, it won because it provides mixed-tenure housing and was contextually designed to be cohesive with warehouse buildings in its district. The developers also took a narrow canalside (Herford Union Canal) walkway and widened it, benefiting residents and the surrounding community by providing a pedestrian path into Victoria Park.

Social landlords and housing associations operate with different taxation and other infra-support requirements than do for-dividend developers. That said, these hybrids of social and market-rate developments show there is a market of buyers for whom the mix is not problematic.

Investors in real assets such as land and housing have many opportunities for satisfying the demand for homes in the UK. But the smart investor first seeks the counsel of an independent financial advisor.

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