Housing chiefs to visit Calderdale to help kickstart building projects

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Communities facing a chronic shortage of homes will be visited by housing chiefs as part of a national scheme to help kickstart building projects.

The National Housing Federation (NHF), which represents housing associations, will be in Hebden Bridge and Dewsbury this week to hear from tenants in the two towns.

The visits are part of the NHF’s Great Places programme, launched to learn lessons from past regeneration projects and find out how to meet rising demand for new homes.

Mark Henderson, NHF board member and chief executive of the housing association Home Group, will be visiting West Yorkshire on Tuesday and Wednesday.

He said: “We’ll be meeting tenants and residents, running community workshops and bringing real people in to talk about their experiences. What are the lessons? What can be done better or differently?”

Figures reveal in Calderdale, around 2,900 fewer new homes than were needed were built between 2012 and 2016. The average monthly rent in the district is £514, swallowing up 25 per cent of private renters’ income, the NHF said. In Dewsbury, there was a shortfall of around 5,520 newly-built homes between 2012 and 2016.

Mr Henderson said: “We are simply building too few houses for all the people who want houses, irrespective of tenure.

“We need 250,000 houses a year to meet current demand.

“As a country we are building less than 200,000 a year. That’s a crisis. I think the Government is pretty sincere about this. It’s clearly a priority for Government.

“We just need a long term strategy that’s agreed by all parties.”

The NHF said it was interested in hearing from people in smaller industrial towns after carrying out its last Great Places visit to Liverpool.

The organisation has argued that along with a lack of housing supply, parts of the country are having problems with low-quality homes, unemployment and poor transport links.

Calderdale Council said it was planning to publish details of how to deliver 840 new homes annually for 15 years as part of its Local Plan.

The authority also launched the Calderdale Together Housing Investment Partnership. It is expected to see the council and Together Housing Group build up to 650 homes, both for purchase and affordable rent.

Heidi Wilson, Calderdale Council’s Strategic Housing Delivery Manager, said: “We are committed to supporting house building across Calderdale, providing affordable and high-quality homes.

“Working with a range of housing partners we want to increase the number of homes for rent and affordable purchase and help regenerate our local areas.

“The next chapter for Calderdale sees £150m of investment into the borough to improve our transport, public spaces and business premises, building on our heritage, our fine architecture, our vibrant business sector and our strong communities.”

Together Housing Group’s Dave Procter will also take part in next week’s visit in his role as a Great Places Commissioner.

He said: “Hebden Bridge is a great place to get honest answers to questions about community housing need so I’m really looking forward to the visit.”