The development of a strategic approach to deliver affordable homes, regenerate and replace out of date properties and increase the sustainability of Reading's housing portfolio from 2025 to 2040.
At a glance
Housing Advisers Programme case study
Reading Borough Council has reached the position where all cleared council owned sites suitable for housing development are already included in our existing local authority new build programme, requiring a more strategic and interconnected plan for development post 2025.
We commissioned a multi-disciplinary team to work with us to create a Development and Regeneration Programme for Reading to run from 2025 to 2040. Working collaboratively across the council and with our specialist experts, we conducted a strategic sites review to identify opportunities for development and regeneration within the borough. These findings have been developed into a significant outline development programme for 2025 to 2040, including indicative sequencing and costings.
We are committed to ensuring that our residents are at the centre of what we do and this is clearly reflected in the programme. We also demonstrate how we, as a local authority, plan to support the delivery of local and national objectives in terms of affordable housing delivery.
Challenge and context
At the outset, we set out three challenges which we needed to address through our Development and Regeneration Programme 2025 to 2040:
- Provide increased affordable housing.
- Replace out of date properties that are not fit for purpose or are expensive to maintain.
- Increase the sustainability of our housing portfolio.
Demand for affordable housing in Reading continues to outstrip supply, with pressures on all types of accommodation from specialist housing through to family homes. Housing demand and need was quantified through the Berkshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) which reported in February 2016. For Reading Borough that assessment identified a need for 16,077 new homes (699 a year) between 2013 and 2036. Of those new homes, the SHMA identified the need for 58 per cent (406 a year) to be affordable – reflecting how far property prices and private rent levels are beyond the means of many residents.
On the 26 February 2019, the Council declared a Climate Emergency and resolved to act to accelerate a carbon neutral Reading to 2030. The Council is committed to ensuring that new homes deliver on this agenda by developing designs that maximise all sustainability options.
In addition to the above, we also needed a programme that would support us to deliver news homes on sites that offer a sustainable location for residents in terms of access to employment, schools, and other local services via good public transport, pedestrian and cycling networks. While seeking to encourage and support sustainable travel, where possible sites will provide charging points for electric vehicles.
What we did
We commissioned a multi-disciplinary team to work with us to create a Development and Regeneration Programme for Reading to run from 2025 to 2040.
We identified ten key priorities for this programme:
- Stock replacement
- Increase affordable housing
- Address the climate emergency
- Meet needs
- Create thriving communities
- Place making
- Working towards 15-minute neighbourhoods
- Landscape and ecology
- Working together
- Planning for the future
We carried out a strategic review of sites across the borough and identified 47 sites in total, located in five key study areas: Whitley, Southcote, Tilehurst, Caversham and Woodley. High level capacity studies have been developed for each site.
The sites have also been indicatively sequenced into three year phases to enable the decanting of tenants and demolition of existing homes to be completed in a way that keeps the tenants experience at the heart of our decision making.
The difference we made
This project has provided an opportunity for the council to strategically review and assess the constraints and opportunities for future housing development in the borough. The resulting programme will help us to address three key challenges:
- increase affordable housing
- replace out of date properties that are not fit for purpose or are expensive to maintain
- increase the sustainability of our housing portfolio.
Our next step is to carry out a consultation process with senior officers and councillors. This is critical to taking the proposals forward. It is expected that there will be some updates to the programme post consultation.
We had initially hoped to deliver the programme within a six month period. However, due to capacity limitations, we required additional time to complete the project – the scope was rather extensive!
We are happy to share with partners our journey in relation to local authority new build so far, and in the future, there will be opportunities to reflect on successes and barriers in terms of implementing the Development and Regeneration Programme 2025 to 2040.