Friday, July 13, 2007

New council housing - welcome but ...

While the commitment to dealing with the housing shortage was evident, it was unclear from Gordon Brown’s not-the-Queen’s-Speech whether we are to see a revival of council house building.

There has been much speculation about council house building. I welcome the prospect (with caveats) although I am wary about the “Fourth Option” advocated by Defend Council Housing. I favour linking reform and investment in social housing as much as elsewhere in public services.

If there is to be more council housing, we need to be sure that:
  1. There is no return to the mono tenure estates of yesteryear. Any new council houses should be in a mixed and sustainable communities.
  2. There is capacity in terms of design, build and project management generally. As council house building has not happened for a couple of decades, council may be lacking some of the skills required. That will mean councils teaming up with partners such as housing associations.
  3. The new council homes will be well managed – the obvious candidates are the high performing Arms Length Management Organisations. (These organisations are hated by the Defend Council Homes campaign but are proving great for their tenants as shown by so many good and excellent inspection reports.)

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