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The forum demonstrated the vast range of objectives between local authorities and the variety of housing company models that have already been set up. The benefit of the forum was clearly visible as representatives across 14 local authorities and housing companies debated their aims, governance structures and how engaging private sector partners at the start can help to ensure the project gets off the ground. Mark Baigent, author of “How to set up a local housing company”, provided the keynote speech and will lead future meetings of the forum established by Countryside.
In the seminar, it was discussed that local authorities are increasingly looking to bring private sector expertise onboard at the start of the process. This is due to the one-off nature of setting up such a company and the complexities involved, ranging from deciding on a business model and choosing the right financial structure.
These partnerships allow local authorities not only to have access to the necessary information but also to a wealth of invaluable experience helping to inform the placing of mitigation measures to ensure the Local Housing Company becomes a success. This demand for information to help improve building capacity in the UK is shared by central government, whose recently launched consultation on planning for the “right homes in the right place” seeks to improve guidance on how to increase housing supply. Government and local authorities are both demanding the skills and expertise needed to build homes efficiently and the partnerships forged with private enterprises may help satisfy these current deficits.
Graham Cherry, Chief Executive at Countryside Partnerships South, said: “While every council looking to set up a Local Housing Company will have different priorities and solutions in mind, there are a number of areas where councils and the private sector can collaborate on at the start to ensure the project gets off the ground. With 35 years’ experience in the sector, Countryside is ideally placed to form partnerships with councils that are looking to set up a Local Housing Company by sharing our expertise at the start of the process, when uncertainty is often the highest.”