The government must support communities and recognise the invaluable input of the social housing sector, says Jay Siadankay, Head of Development and Regeneration at Cobalt Housing…
Homes are at the centre of everything. It’s the safe place where we leave each morning and return each evening and where memories are made in between. Building homes is so much more than a development: it’s a chance to grow communities that will serve to strengthen our existing neighbourhoods.
The Coronavirus crisis has caused us to face the biggest challenge in our lives, and now more than ever people need a home.
In June, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced ambitions plans to ‘Build, Build, Build’ to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. It is vital that the government recognises it must invest in social housing to deliver sustainable and community-led results.
Social housing is an invaluable lifeline for many who cannot afford to rent in the private sector. To meet current demand, the National Housing Federation announced that England needs 340,000 new homes, including 145,000 affordable homes before 2031.
Housing association are best placed to deliver these affordable homes and create strong and sustainable communities. This will of course require buy-in and investment and support from many areas, particularly the government, local authorities, and the community.
At Cobalt Housing, our ambition is to deliver 500 new homes by 2023 and to create homes that strengthen communities and provide the foundations for families to live, achieve, and grow. We aim to do this by building on our strong relationships with Liverpool City Council, Homes England, strategic partners Torus, academics, and our local community.
During our community event in 2019, Altogether Festival, we consulted with tenants about adaptability, new technology, and the investments we could make in our new homes – such as solar panels, sensory technology, and rainwater harvesting systems.
We recognise the importance and benefit low- and zero-carbon homes would bring to our customers through reducing energy bills and helping create sustainable communities.
As a housing association, we have a duty of care to our residents. Together with tenant feedback obtained through surveys and community events, to better understand the types of homes we should be building, we partnered with the University of Liverpool (UoL).
From the findings Martin Farran, director of Adult Social Care at LCC, said: “The message is clear: older residents want and need new purpose-built homes so that they can move, freeing up family homes for the next generation of families to move into, and enjoy a warm, safe, and healthy environment.”
“Housing associations build so much more than homes: they create jobs, add social value and training opportunities, regenerate neighbourhoods, and support communities”
Through UoL research, we’re able to establish what types of homes will be the most suitable for the needs of our tenants. Cobalt’s upcoming development at our Altbridge Park site in Croxteth seeks to build 57 new homes for this purpose.
The development will be the first development both designed and delivered by Cobalt since our demerger in 2017. These homes are designed to fit the needs of our community and current accessibility standards by being wheelchair accessible. They will be fit for the future, too.
Social housing brings added value because of its connection to the community. Housing associations build so much more than homes: they create jobs, add social value and training opportunities, regenerate neighbourhoods, and support communities across the UK. This is what the government must pledge to invest in its autumn statement.
The government must pledge its support to our communities and see the positive impact a housing association can bring. Only by working together can we build communities fit for the future and deliver high-quality and affordable housing for residents across the UK.