Thames Valley Housing Response to the Montague Report

Thames Valley Housing (TVH) has welcomed yesterday’s publication of the Montague Report, describing it as ‘an invitation to innovation’.

Responding to the report, TVH Chief Executive, Geeta Nanda said:  “We welcomed both the opportunity to contribute to the Montague report, and its publication.  All contributions to the debate on how to tackle the UK’s housing crisis are to be encouraged, but particularly those that have included research and contribution from practitioners, as this has.

The housing crisis is a stark one.  As a nation, our demand for homes is increasing at the rate of 230,000 per year, yet our housing supply lags way behind, with only 115,000 new homes completed in 2009/10.  We believe that that this gap is best filled by a mixed portfolio of new homes, with a strong private sector alongside affordable rented housing, shared-ownership schemes and owner-occupation.

Thames Valley Housing has been at the vanguard of the private rented sector, with the FizzyLiving portfolio featured in the Montague report.  We are leveraging our core expertise as a landlord, together with modern web technologies to deliver a great product offering for customers.  Our confidence in demand for the private rented sector means that we’re investing £30M in the portfolio, and are working with investors interested in joining us.

We support each of the five recommendations made.

Discussion in the media has focused on the first recommendation; that Local Authorities should use the existing flexibilities in the National Planning Policy Framework to support growth in the private rented sector, reducing Section 106 obligations for the provision of affordable housing.  Along with many other housing associations, Thames Valley Housing has participated in Section 106 projects in the past, and will continue to do so – it has enabled the provision of affordable housing in mixed tenure communities.  It is work the sector can be proud of.

However, we recognise that innovation and new investor participants are needed if the private rented sector is to play the part that’s required in increasing the housing supply. We therefore back the recommendation that local authorities should use flexibilities in the planning system to support the development of private rented homes, where that meets local needs on schemes that would most suit that tenure. This should not necessarily mean the end of affordable housing being provided through planning gain. We need to move away from a sector that is lead by small buy to let landlords, to one where build to let enables the development of a more professionally managed sector. This will give stability for the many people struggling to have access to any form of decent housing”

You can read the full Montague Report here

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