23rd May 2018

Affordable Housing Who And How

Senior Associate Director and Bristol Studio Lead, Matt Scott is involved in an exciting approach to affordable housing. Read on to learn more about this smarter way for LAs to provide the housing our country needs.

The challenge
We hear constantly about the desperate need for affordable housing within both the private and social housing markets, but how do we begin to address it? There is no silver bullet and it will require a multi-faceted approach to solve.

One opportunity is with ‘local authority new build’ (LANB) where LAs develop their own, new build housing. Saunders are already involved in this exciting approach to housing provision and feel that it will be an important way to deliver affordable housing in the future.

The role of the Local Authority
The approach is familiar: LAs build their own ‘council housing’. What is different is how projects are designed and delivered. With LANB, LAs use the land or sites they already own – often central brownfield sites where people can live sustainably - they fund the developments themselves or through borrowing (this will require central government to relax current borrowing permissions), and they commission the development of these sites for affordable housing.

What is vital, and what sets this apart from previous council housing development, is the approach to tenure and design so that we avoid the mistakes and stigmas of the past. Each site should deliver a mix of private market housing and social housing; this not only avoids problems associated with single tenure development but can help to fund future projects as the private market housing can either be sold to cross subsidise future projects or retained and rented, thus providing a long-term investment for the LA and giving them a larger, flexible housing stock that can respond to future needs.

The role of the architect
The architect and wider design team play a vital role in delivering this alternative approach to affordable housing as it’s imperative to avoid the mistakes of the past. High quality design is essential, both in terms of materials and build quality but also in terms of place making, particularly in how to deliver a sustainable tenure mix within each new community.

Our current collaborations
Saunders are currently engaged by Reading Borough Council working alongside WSP, LDA Design and Currie & Brown, to help deliver their LANB programme. We are looking at three very different brownfield sites across Reading, providing bespoke design solutions for each that maximise the number of new homes and provide great, new, affordable places to live. We are always looking for new opportunities and collaborations to apply our knowledge and experience in this exciting approach to affordable housing provision.

If you’re interested in finding out more, contact matt.scott@saundersarchitects.com