The Commission has recommended that Ealing maintains its commitment to socially rented homes and security of tenure with its own stock.
It also advocates employment and training advice for tenants, and private sector landlord licensing schemes. The council will also consider using new Housing Revenue Account (HRA) freedoms to directly provide housing for private rental or sale, and so generate a cross-subsidy for providing social rented homes.
Ealing could now sell some of its one-bed properties and use the receipts to increase the provision of family homes at social rents, either through its own new build programme, or by providing extra subsidy to housing associations.
The Commission included politicians, developers, housing association CEOs, former civil servants, academics and researchers. It was set up at a time of what the council describes as some of the most radical changes to housing policy in recent history.
Commission Member, and L&Q Chief Executive, David Montague, said: “Ealing has a clear housing vision and realises that a successful housing policy is one that supports employment and diverse communities, mixed by income, tenure and ethnicity. Our challenge has been to identify ways for Ealing to achieve this vision, whilst simultaneously responding to a rapidly changing policy and funding environment.”
Ealing’s Executive Director of Regeneration and Housing, Pat Hayes, sees the council at the forefront of a new style of confident, entrepreneurial, municipal housing management. He says: “Local authorities now need to play a lead role in housing, and crucially must do so in a way that fully involves their local communities and works in partnership with the private sector to achieve the best outcomes.”
“In Ealing we’ve already forged a reputation for constructive partnerships with developers. A case in point is a development by St. George in central Ealing, which will provide 70 flats for the actively elderly as part of a scheme of 698 new homes, with shops and offices.
“Now we are taking the next steps to become a significant developer in our own right, utilising the financial benefit that results from council’s ability to retain the ownership of land on which development takes place.”
The Housing Commission’s vision for Ealing’s new role as developer is shown by the 637-home Copley Close estate (pictured) regeneration plans. New HRA freedoms have given Ealing the option to lead on the estate’s regeneration using its own resources to both fund refurbishment and to act as a developer.
See the full report.