Select Committee seek housing pointers from council

By on 05/12/2011 in News

Members of the Communities and Local Government Select Committee met with Cllr John Lines, Cabinet Member for Housing, and senior staff from Birmingham City Council's Homes and Neighbourhoods directorate today, to gather information about its work on building and financing new council houses and homes for sale.

The Council was visited by the Committee because of the merits of its nationally recognised new council house building programme - Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust (BMHT) -  a similar model to the Government's proposed 'Built Now Pay Later scheme.

Today's presentation by the council outlined its work since BMHT was developed in 2009, including how the model was created, how it's managed financially, and how it works with the private sector.  The information was accompanied by a guided tour of the council's housing development projects to demonstrate how the theory works in practice – creating new high-quality homes.

The BMHT programme works in partnership with house building developers.  One of the key factors of its success is the way the council has listened to developers and re-thought the conventional sales model.  BMHT de-risks the development by achieving planning approval for each site and defers payment for its land until the developer has sold the home.  At that point the Council takes its income and re-invests it in future schemes. This approach reduces the developers' risk and allows a gradual and cost effective way of funding new houses and keeps Birmingham building.  Under the scheme there are 1,340 new homes in various stages of completion. 

Cllr John Lines, Birmingham City Council's Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “I'm encouraged by today's visit, as I'm sure this fact-finding exercise shows that BMHT is an excellent programme to replicate.  It's an innovative housing model with principals that deliver high quality homes for rent and sale.

“Not only does BMHT produce new homes for Birmingham residents, it also creates jobs for local people. 

“I'm sure that taking on Birmingham's housing model on a national scale could help to swell the wider economy, as work in the housing and construction business can playing its part in stimulating the economy and creating jobs.  A recent report from a house builder's federation shows that increasing house building in Birmingham would create 4,500 new jobs.  This is a good sign of future possibilities.”

Birmingham City Council has the biggest new council houses development programme in the UK.  It works in partnership with registered social landlords to maximize the delivery of new houses - 933 affordable homes in 2009/10 with 1033 for 2010/11.

Ends

For more information contact Karen Blanchette on 0121 303 6969.

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