Pathways to the private sector

first_imgClaer Barrett Senior online reporter, Financial Times – chairNeil Young Chief executive, Get Living LondonHarry Downes Managing director, Fizzy LivingSimon Chatfield Operations director, be:hereKate Davies Chief executive, Notting Hill HousingCB: The government’s Private Rented Sector (PRS) Taskforce has identified £10bn of potential investment for private rented sector projects, but how does this translate on the ground?SC: There’s a lot of interest in PRS, and lots of institutions have talked about it, but there are probably still only a small number that would seriously fund it.NY: One of the difficulties for institutions is that their funds are either income funds or capital funds – and PRS is both.HD: While PRS landlords are competing in the market against overseas investors they are always going to lose out.PRS operates on a different business model to developers and housebuilders, who do not need to budget for long-term hold and regular maintenance.Until PRS is seen as a viable use of property in its own right, capable of giving something back to the community such as a 10-year commitment to PRS with capped rents and incomes, then it will continue to face difficulties in securing product.SC: If the investors were where they are now three years ago, we would have had the opportunity to secure a number of sites. Now sites in zone three that would have been ideal for PRS are going to private sale.NY: Investors from Asia are ultimately prepared to buy flats on the kinds of sites we want to buy; it’s not just about central London for them anymore.CB: The Labour government has declared war on buy-to-let investors, calling for “investor-free zones” and rental caps – will this help PRS developers?KD: I know a lot of private landlords who have made millions on the back of housing benefit and that’s not right.HD: They’re looking at the wrong part of the problem.Do local authorities want to be seen to freeze out buy-to-let investors, or increase the number of apartments young people can afford to rent?Is there not a way where, in large residential schemes, of the 40 per cent that should be “affordable”, half are PRS with capped rental increases and a ten-year guarantee?That would provide us with the residual valuation to make schemes work. Take an area like Vauxhall.You’ve either got to be extremely poor to live there, or extremely rich.Young professionals are exiled.We’re all trying to achieve homes for young people but we need to buy at a viable price to rent at a viable rent.The government should legislate or make this part of Section 106 agreements.SC: It’s also about the quality of the product, and having something that delivers what tenants actually want: long-term security of tenure, certainty around rent increases, services and a landlord that responds to repairs.CB: Would a separate planning use class help?HD: The institutions that fund PRS developments don’t want it.They have a long-term view and want the ultimate flexibility to sell.SC: To have a product that encourages young professionals to live and work in the borough is popular with local authorities at a housing department level, but there is still a lack of clarity in planning viability terms.More evidence is needed to assist valuers and planners.CB: How does the social housing model fit in to PRS?KD: In the 1970s you either bought a house or got a council flat. Now most people can’t get into either.Social housing is not available for ordinary working people.Right to buy is still being encouraged, so of course PRS is taking up the slack.But as a solution, I don’t really rate it.It is relatively expensive, and rents are going up faster than people’s incomes so it isn’t really sustainable. The government is interested in PRS as it is unable to tackle two much bigger problems – how do we provide adequate, affordable housing for people to rent or buy.CB: What would you do as housing minister?KD: Four out of every ten developable acres in England are owned by the state.Public land could be the subsidy that makes housing affordable for people.But it must be kept in the public sector so that the increasing value over time is retained and can keep working.Look at Notting Hill – we’re worth £6bn, which enables us to build homes with only 10% funding from the taxpayer, and 90% generated by our organisation and borrowing.CB: PRS developers pride themselves on tenant services – but which are the most popular?HD: We offer free basic broadband, which tenants love as they hate the inconvenience of waiting for BT or Sky to make an appointment.Laundry and dry cleaning they’re happy to pay for, but the biggest one is internet shopping – we have hundreds of Amazon parcels delivered every week, so having a concierge to sign for and take delivery of those is really popular.CB: What have you all learned from the US market, where PRS is known as “multi-family housing”?SC: In the US, it is so competitive. You get services like wine cellars and pet grooming parlours.There’s no regard for whether people actually want it, but if one has it, the next one has to copy; it’s self-perpetuating. One thing we saw and liked was local restaurants coming in and doing a food evening for tenants, which has communitybuilding benefits.last_img read more

Hansom: Nature’s bounty

first_imgSome like it hotBritain’s builders have muscled their way in to rank among the sexiest professions in the country. Research from the Federation of Master Builders shows that while Brits still love a uniform, with the armed forces, nurses and pilots the jobs with the most sex appeal, builders have turned their image around to get into the top ten sexiest professions in the UK. The research also showed that traditional commerce-led jobs such as bankers and CEOs, usually associated with suits, high salaries and Christian Grey, were a turn off for Brits compared with the roguish charm of the hardworking, physically active builder. Star turnHouse prices in areas with restaurants recently awarded a Michelin star outperformed the wider market the year following the accolade, with more than two-thirds outperforming their local market. Property consultant Knight Frank analysed house prices within a 5km radius of restaurants that achieved a Michelin star between 2010 and 2013, comparing the rate of house price growth the following year with the average price change for the wider local authority. Horsham, where restaurant Tristan was awarded a Michelin star in 2013, topped the list – local house prices rocketed by 15.2% the following year compared to 9.5% in the wider area.To bee or not to beeArchitects are buzzing after the launch to market of a new brick. In response to declining bee numbers, the innovative “bee brick” by architect Green&Blue has specially designed cavities for bees to nest in. It has already earned the title of “most innovative new product” from the Soil Association. Gavin Christman, co-founder of Green&Blue, said: “The bee brick was created to be an integral part of buildings and offers the dual function of being a construction material that also promotes biodiversity.” The brick has been used on several private projects and there are wider hopes that it will be a key player in the quest to save the bees. And wouldn’t it be great if the bees could function as a kind of living security system, trained to attack burglars and door salesmen? The possibilities are endless.Winning at bridge Opponents of the Garden Bridge are celebrating a “double whammy” after convincing Lambeth council to designate the spot on the South Bank where the bridge would end as an “asset of community value”. It means when the Garden Bridge Trust applies to lease the land, the sale will be put on hold for six months while the local community raises enough money for a counter-bid. The six months will be up in January 2016, when construction is due to start so it doesn’t clash with the so-called Thames “Super-Sewer”. Campaigner Michael Ball claims it could set the bridge back “three or four months”.Plugging the gapThat the skills crisis in construction is top of the agenda at the moment is not likely to have escaped your attention. But, according to a survey by Bright Cherry Media – which I’m sure is statistically sound in every way – it is not just professional construction skills that are under threat. DIY skills, once the proud preserve of the British male, are apparently fast disappearing, with a third of people admitting to not knowing how to change a plug, and a similar number avoiding DIY on the basis of not having the right tools. However, it does find that one in three DIY-ers are women, which, while hardly gender equality, is at least a far better ratio than the actual construction industry manages.Source: ADAM architectureFinal curtain for ‘Downton’ Plans by Robert Adam to demolish a Victorian villa on London’s Hampstead Heath and replace it with a “fake Downton Abbey” (pictured left) have been thrown out for a second time by the Planning Inspectorate – damned by the inspector as “nowhere near sufficient to overcome the extensive harm it would cause”. Campaigners, led by the Highgate Society, against the ostentatious mega-mansion plan gathered a 5,000-signature petition and the support of local resident and Monty Python star Terry Gilliam. You’re probably right in thinking that this project is now dead, demised, bereft of life. It’s kicked the bucket. It’s an ex-project. Send any juicy industry gossip to [email protected]last_img read more

Optimists honor Farmington Hills Special Services

first_img Farmington Voice Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) The Farmington/Farmington Hills Optimist Club presented the City of Farmington Hills Special Services Department with the 2017 Sponsor of the Year Award at an Optimist Club breakfast meeting held on February 14.The award was given in appreciation of the Department’s outstanding commitment to the support of children in the community.Ellen Schnackel, right, accepts the Optimist Club Award from club president Barrie Armstrong. (City of Farmington Hills)The Farmington/Farmington Hills Optimist Club is part of Optimist International, a worldwide volunteer organization with 2,900 clubs and almost 87,000 members in more than 35 nations throughout the world. The organization’s mission is to conduct positive service programs that provide a helping hand to youth and “bring out the best in kids.”In presenting the Sponsor of the Year Award, the Optimist Club acknowledged that it could not provide its important community programs without the vital support of the City of Farmington Hills Special Services Department.“By partnering with the Special Services Department, Optimist Club members make great use of their time and talent while making a positive impact on the community,” said Optimist Club President Barrie Armstrong.The Optimist Club and the Special Services Department work together to present these annual programs:Inside OutTeam Building – Junior Optimist TrainingGreat Farmington Hills CampoutProject Fish – Annual Fishing Day at the Carpenter Lake Nature PreserveAdvanced Junior Naturalist Program at the Farmington Hills Nature Center“We appreciate the generous support and donations from the Optimist Club,” said Ellen Schnackel. “Their members help to facilitate successful and affordable programs that promote enjoyment of the outdoors for local youth and their families.”–Press release Reported bylast_img read more

Suspect crashes NJ Transit police SUV into Hoboken Terminal

first_img Related ABC News(HOBOKEN, N.J.) — A suspect jumped into a New Jersey Transit police SUV on Monday and drove it into the doors of the Hoboken Terminal building, a major New York City area transportation hub, officials said.No injuries were reported from the incident, which took place around 8 a.m., NJ Transit said.The suspect was arrested at the scene and charges are pending, NJ Transit said.The waiting room doors were damaged, but train service is not impacted. Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.Powered by WPeMaticolast_img