News / Housing

Bristol City Council will miss its affordable housing target

By amanda cameron, Wednesday Sep 9, 2020

Bristol City Council is going to miss its affordable housing target by hundreds of new homes this year, breaking a key election promise by the mayor.

Mayor Marvin Rees pledged to build 2,000 new homes – 800 affordable – a year by 2020 when he was a mayoral candidate in 2016.

But a new report from Bristol City Council says the authority will realistically build fewer than 400 affordable homes in 2020/21 and has revised its target for affordable housing for the year down to 500.

The report blames the coronavirus pandemic for the lower numbers but says the council is likely to meet or even exceed the original target of 800 new affordable homes per year for the next two years.

“We are proud of the huge strides we have made delivering on our housing targets,” said a mayor’s office spokesperson. “Covid-19 has had a significant impact on housing delivery throughout the country, due to site closures, contractors operating at reduced capacity, build prices increasing and planning submissions and approvals being delayed.

“We are reviewing these current projections with a view to boosting the delivery of affordable housing in Bristol in the face of these significant challenges.’’

The housing delivery update report, by the council’s executive director of growth and regeneration Stephen Peacock, is due to be discussed by a scrutiny commission of councillors on Monday, September 14.

It says 489 new affordable homes will be completed during this financial year according to optimistic estimates, but the more realistic number is 391.

Likewise, once a 20 per cent “optimism bias” is taken into account, it is anticipated that 797 and 1,028 new affordable homes will be completed by the end of 2021/22 and 2022/23, respectively, according to the report.

The council will fall behind its affordable housing target. Photo: Joshua Perrett

The report adds: “As a result of Covid-19, and the resulting impacts to construction, build prices and the economy, the affordable housing target has been set as a stretch target of 500 in this financial year but will be maintained at 800 for at least the next two years.

“Based on current forecasts, the target is likely to be almost met this year and will be met and possibly even exceeded in the next two years.”

The council set up a housing delivery team in 2017 to focus on meeting the council’s housing targets. Guided by the authority’s 2017-2020 Housing Delivery Plan, its housing programme is funded from various sources including council tax, government grants for affordable housing, and developers.

It also manages the release of land for housing and oversees the progress of major housing developments. These include Hengrove Park, where up to 1,435 new homes – 30 per cent affordable – are set to be built after the council granted outline consent for the plans in October last year.

There are also plans for 1,200 new homes in Lockleaze and 300 in Southmead, according to the report. The council’s building company Goram Homes has also agreed terms for Romney House and Baltic Wharf,  the report says.

New houses are planned for Lockleaze. Photo: Jess Connett

According to information released under the Freedom of Information Act, 1,994 new homes were built in Bristol in 2016/17 and 1,640 were finished in 2017/18. Of those, 199 were affordable in 2016/17 and 184 were affordable in 2017/18.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service has asked the council for the figures from 2018/19 and 2019/20.

Amanda Cameron is a local democracy reporter for Bristol

Main image: Labour Party

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