Ealing’s Housing Commission produces final report

Published 2 April 2012

Ealing Council’s Housing Commission, which was launched in March 2011 to help identify the borough’s housing goals, has produced its final report and recommendations.

South Acton estate
The Commission’s foremost recommendation is that Ealing maintains its commitment to socially rented homes and security of tenure with its own stock.  It also advocates employment and training advice, especially at the point of letting, becoming a core element of Ealing’s social tenancies.

The Commission has also focused its attention on the private rental sector. Recommendations here include landlord licensing schemes, initially in areas where private rental properties are beginning to dominate and where there are especially poor standards.  The council will also consider using new Housing Revenue Account (HRA) freedoms to directly provide housing for private rental or sale, and so generate a cross-subsidy for providing social rented homes.  Ealing could now sell some of its one-bed properties and use the receipts to increase the provision of family homes at social rents, either through its own new build programme, or by providing extra subsidy to housing associations.

Ealing’s Housing Commission comprised thought leaders and senior decision makers in the housing sector, including politicians, developers, housing association CEOs, former civil servants, academics and researchers.

Ealing set up its Commission at a time of some of the most radical changes to housing policy in recent history.  The Commission’s value has been the diverse experience and expertise of its membership, enabling it to consider a broad array of papers and expert presentations on a range of policy areas, and then articulate the implications for Ealing.

Commission Member, and L&Q Chief Executive, David Montague, said: “Ealing has a clear housing vision and realises that a successful housing policy is one that supports employment and diverse communities, mixed by income, tenure and ethnicity.  Our challenge has been to identify ways for Ealing to achieve this vision, whilst simultaneously responding to a rapidly changing policy and funding environment.”
In assessing the issues facing housing in Ealing over the coming years the Commission has identified seven themes.  These are: meeting need and supporting the most vulnerable, 2) affordability, 3) supply, 4) regeneration, 5) finance, 6) residualisation (those left behind following movement in number from a neighbourhood), employment and mixed communities, and 7) supporting those unable to buy their own home - generation rent.

Ealing’s Executive Director of Regeneration and Housing, Pat Hayes, sees the council at the forefront of a new style of confident, entrepreneurial, municipal housing management.

He says: “Local authorities now need to play a lead role in housing, and crucially must do so in a way that fully involves their local communities and works in partnership with the private sector to achieve the best outcomes.”

“In Ealing we’ve already forged a reputation for constructive partnerships with developers. A case in point is a development by St. George in central Ealing, which will provide 70 flats for the actively elderly as part of a scheme of 698 new homes, with shops and offices.

“Now we are taking the next steps to become a significant developer in our own right, utilising the financial benefit that results from council’s ability to retain the ownership of land on which development takes place.”

The Housing Commission’s vision for Ealing’s new role as developer is exemplified on the Copley Close estate - a large housing estate of 637 homes in the east of the borough.  New HRA freedoms have given Ealing the option to lead on the estate’s regeneration using its own resources to both fund refurbishment and to potentially act as a developer - building new properties for a range of tenures.

Ealing’s Housing Commission has built a strong case for active intervention in the local housing market and the delivery of more homes – directly and in partnership – for social rent and other tenures.  Ealing’s focus is now on a programme of solid delivery, underpinned by the Commission’s recommendations, which could see it make a significant impact on the local housing market and the needs and aspirations of it’s residents.

Read the Housing Commission’s final report and recommendations for Ealing.