New figures show WMCA funded schemes exceed affordable housing targets
2nd November 2023
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Residential schemes receiving investment from the WMCA must make a minimum 20% of the new homes affordable, but new analysis has shown that developers working with the WMCA have gone further in helping to drive up the number.


Of the 6,285 homes unlocked by WMCA investments since 2018, a total of 2,045 are affordable – nearly 33%.  


As in other parts of the UK, many people in the West Midlands are finding it financially difficult to buy or rent a good quality, energy efficient home. The average UK property now costs more than seven times the average UK salary and private rents are also at a record high due to a nationwide housing shortage. 


To help tackle the issue, the WMCA is now set to use fresh powers secured from government in its recent Deeper Devolution Deal to deliver more affordable homes - focused primarily on former industrial sites – often called brownfield land. 


Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and WMCA Chair,joined Stuart Penn,regional managing director of Lovell Partnershipsand Gary Fulford, chief executive of local housing associationwhg,to meet residents who have benefited from affordable housing policies at theLockside development in Walsall. 


Alongside investment from Homes England’s Affordable Housing Programme, the WMCA invested over £4 million into the £44 milliondevelopment which will see 252 homes builton the site of the former Caparo steel works.  


One resident helped by the scheme is Mukarram Janhanzaib, a driving instructor in his 60s. After 20 years of renting, Mr Janhanzaib said it was "impossible" for him to secure a standard 25-year mortgage.


He was able to buy 40% of his home through the shared ownership scheme and reduce his monthly rent by more than half.

"I’mreally happy to move in. I feel like a kid in a sweet shop," he said. "It is that feeling of happiness. It’s a dream come true. When they gave me the keys, I was quite excited. It was emotional."

Lovell are currently halfway through completion of the development. In total, aselection of one, two, three and four-bedroom homes will be available. Of these,132 are available for open market sale through Lovell Homes while whgistaking on 120 affordable homes including 70 for affordable rent and shared ownership and 50 apartments under a wellbeing scheme for the over 55s. 


It is the first development for joint venture developer Anthem Lovell LLP - a partnership between Lovell and Anthem Homes,a subsidiary of whg. 


The Mayorsaid: “Delivering affordable, high quality, homes for local people is a key priority for our region and these figures underline that this is something we’ve got a good track record in so far. 


Each and every scheme that the WMCA has put money into either meets or exceeds our 20% affordable housing requirement – with many of the schemes now  using our own definition of affordable which is linked to actual local wages rather than property prices.  


“These latest figures also show that many developers working with us, like Lovell, share our vision for good quality, energy efficient and affordable housing - enabling local people to meet their property aspirations at the same time as reducing our region’s carbon footprint.  


However, there’s always more to be done and now – thanks to the Deeper Devolution Deal we signed with government back in March - we’ll be able to do more good work in this field after securing up to £500m in new funds to support housing and regeneration projects. 


“The new powers and funding we secured in the Deeper Devolution Deal also give our region much more direction over how we deliver the homes that local people and local communities quite rightly expect. So, we will continue to work hard on that mission.” 


Houses on the Lockside side at the former Caparo engineering site in Walsall. Copyright: Rhi Storer


The WMCA became the first region in the UK to introduce its own localised definition of affordable housing, linking it to the real-world incomes of people in the area rather than to local house prices.The definition is based on local people paying no more than 35% of their salary on mortgages or rent. 


The WMCA’s Housing & Land Investment Programme hasalso seen tens of millions of pounds invested in commercial space which is expected to create thousands ofnew jobs. 


Stuart Penn, regionalmanaging director at Lovell, said: “The successful delivery of affordable homes in the region reflects the successful partnership between Lovell and WMCA in collaboration with long term investor and landlord whgand proves that this form of collaboration is essential in tackling key issues.  
“Through our combined efforts, we will continue to deliver homes in sustainable, well-connected neighbourhoods as well as creating places where people want to live, close to critical infrastructure.” 


Gary Fulford, chief executiveat whg, said: “As the cost-of-living hits, more people than ever need affordable, good quality homes.Place-making on land with former industrial uses, such asLockside, are helping to address that demand, by delivering hundreds of new homes that cater for the different needs of residents, at different stages of life. 


Lockside is just one of 26 sites across the Midlands, where we are currently building affordable homes, with the aim of delivering more than 700 new homes in 2023/24. We have only been able to achieve this with the support of our partners such as WMCA and Lovell, and we look forward to working with them again in the future.” 


Of the extra funding and powers secured by the WMCA in its Deeper Devolution Deal, around £100 million will be invested through a Single Regeneration Fund which will support the region in delivering 4,000 new homes. 


From 2026, the WMCA will then take responsibility and even greater control over affordable housing delivery in the region. 

Working with Homes England, the WMCA will invest at least £200 million of the national Affordable Homes Programme in the region by 2026 – and look to double that by working in partnership with local authorities and housing association partners.


Cllr Ian Courts, WMCA portfolio holder for housing and land, and leader of Solihull council, said: “By using these new powers and funding from the Devolution Deal, alongside working closely with like-minded developers, we will be able to provide increasing numbers of affordable homes. Homes that will also feature new, energy efficient technology, helping to lower people’s fuel bills and the region’s carbon emissions. 


 “That’s crucial if we are going to achieve our #WM2041 target of becoming a net zero region within the next two decades. 


“Securing this deal to help increase the number of affordable homes is a clear recognition by government of this region’s strong track record and our national reputation as a leader in house building and brownfield site regeneration.  


“The goal now is to use these new powers to benefit the thousands of local people struggling to afford a decent home. 

In addition to the new funding and powers secured through the Deeper Devolution Deal, the West Midlands has also become the only region with a direct Land Reform Partnership with central government 


This will allow the WMCA to have a major say on all disposals of government land in the region to further support the provision of much needed affordable homes. This could see more brownfield land, held by institutions such as Network Rail and the Ministry of Defence, unlocked for housing, including affordable, and community purposes. 

About the Author

Ian Henery

Member since: 4th February 2019

Presenter Black Country Radio & Black Country Xtra

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