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THE BIG INTERVIEW


As well as providing housing, NCHA has wide- ranging care and support services


localised housing needs. The idea is to use their collective strength to secure grants from Homes England for new housing. And then there’s Pitch, a development services company


it jointly owns with Birmingham-based housing association Longhurst Group. The limited liability partnership, set up in 2005, works


with housing associations and local authorities to help deliver affordable housing. To date, it claims to have enabled the development of 1,400 homes across the Midlands, East of England, Yorkshire and Humber. Paul explains: “There’s a whole load of people out there


who want to build houses and it’s part of our corporate plan to build more homes – either for NCHA or other housing providers. “We feel proud whether we build 400 homes that are


then run by NCHA or 100 homes that are handed to other associations. “It could be argued that who owns the homes is less important than the fact they exist because we need this tenure of housing. “As a country, we haven’t built enough homes for a


generation, so it’s about trying to be innovative to open up the potential to do the most we possibly can.” Paul, who says interest in shared ownership schemes and


full purchases has been strong despite issues in getting mortgages for many buyers, believes the Government’s


target of delivering 300,000 new homes a year is a challenging one. “Housing associations have a part to play in that,” he


adds. “I’d say we’ve delivered consistently but we could probably up our game. “That could mean more grants and investment though, so it doesn’t come without a price tag.”


WHILE THE GOVERNMENT is attempting to address the perennial issue of land availability by reforming planning laws –the proposed changes involves streamlining the process to convert building usage into housing – Paul has some concerns over what impact it will have on Section 106 agreements. Presently, private developers will agree with local authorities to make some infrastructure improvements in communities and for a proportion of its homes to be made affordable. These properties will often be subsequently managed by


housing associations but Paul is slightly anxious at the prospect of developers soon being able to make economic arguments that negate the affordable housing requirement. “We aim to deliver 2,000 homes over the next five years


but this would become more difficult,” he said. “I’d like to think the aspiration of the sector would


remain the same but we’d have to just work harder.” The Government has pledged to invest £12.2bn in affordable housing until 2026 via its Affordable


business networkOctober 2020 37


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