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London leading the way with pioneering new housing pilot

London boroughs could be given more influence over affordable housing investment, in return for commitments on the delivery of affordable housing, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, announced.

A new pilot scheme - approved by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) London Board chaired by the Mayor - has been set up to explore what immediate steps can be taken to give London’s councils greater control and flexibility over housing decisions.  The pilot will also explore a framework which could see boroughs agree to an indicative budget for housing investment from 2011 as part of the next public funding round.

Croydon, Westminster and Hackney councils have been invited to take part in the pilot, starting from April 2010, as they represent a wide selection of the housing challenges in the capital, from over-crowding to major estate regeneration, and have all developed robust and ambitious investment plans working with the HCA.

The boroughs will spend the year-long pilot working with a steering group, chaired by the Mayor’s Housing Advisor, Richard Blakeway and made up of representatives from several key agencies including London Councils, HCA, Housing Associations and Communities and Local Government, looking at what steps would be needed to create a London-wide delegated delivery programme. Every borough will potentially be offered the opportunity to negotiate a delegated contract for the 2011 investment round.

The pilot is a key part of the Mayor’s ongoing commitment, outlined in his draft London Housing Strategy, to work in partnership with boroughs to deliver more affordable housing in the capital.

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said:

"We remain on track to deliver a remarkable number of affordable homes over the next few years but we must begin to look now at how we can keep this momentum going into and beyond 2011. London’s councils have a hugely important part to play in helping us achieve the levels of affordable housing this city needs and they are once again leading the way with this superb new pilot."

"By giving boroughs greater autonomy and responsibility over how housing investment in their area, in return for solid commitments on delivery, we should not only see an increase in the number of homes being built but that the right sorts of homes are created, in the areas where they are needed most."

David Lunts, London Regional Director of the HCA, said:

"The delegated delivery pilot will build on the HCA’s Single Conversation model of working with London boroughs. It will see whether we can go further to help them in their efforts to provide new homes and stronger communities that are tailored to local conditions."

Cllr Philippa Roe, Westminster Council's cabinet member for housing, said: "This pilot is an important milestone in paving the way towards giving councils more freedom to deliver affordable housing that meets the needs of their local communities."

"We want to see a system that gives more flexibility to local authorities so they can respond more effectively to the needs of local people."

"We are delighted to have been chosen and hope we can make a significant contribution to forming a blueprint that other local authorities across the capital will follow."

During the pilot, the three boroughs will receive support from a steering group made up of representatives from the HCA, the Greater London Authority, the London Development Agency and Communities and Local Government.

Notes for editors:

  • The Delegated Delivery Programme Pilot will be steered by a group, chaired by the Mayor’s Housing Advisor, Richard Blakeway and consisting of GLA, HCA, CLG, London Councils, and G15 (housing associations). The role of the steering group will be to decide what exactly will be delegated in 2010/11, the process for extending it to all boroughs, and evaluating the pilot.
  • HCA London Board The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has a London Board, a sub-committee of its main Board, which is chaired by the Mayor. These arrangements are unique to London, reflecting the presence of regional government in the capital, as well as the importance of the Mayor and the London Development Agency (a significant holder of housing land) to delivering the HCA’s overall targets. The HCA London Board brings together the key public sector agencies that deliver housing and regeneration in the capital, to oversee our investments, facilitate cooperation and to ensure a coordinated effort.
  • Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) The HCA is the single, national housing and regeneration agency for England. Our role is to create opportunity for people to live in high quality, sustainable places. We provide funding for affordable housing, bring land back into productive use and improve quality of life by raising standards for the physical and social environment.

HCA Single Conversation is the HCA's business approach. It is the process of dialogue with a local authority (LA), or a group of local authorities where this works better, and partners from the public, private, housing association and voluntary sectors. The Conversation will draw on the long-term, comprehensive priorities set out in the LA's Sustainable Community Strategy and together join up decision making across the range of housing and regeneration activities and investment programmes.

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