UK Housing Awards: Cherwell District Council
Cherwell District Council won the outstanding strategic local authority of the year award. As guest bloggers, they explain more about their approach.
The strapline for Cherwell's Housing Strategy is Enterprise ~ Innovation ~ Empowerment, and these three words underpin the ethos and drive behind its visionary approach. Cherwell has harnessed its powers, resources and freedoms under the Localism Act and its strong relationship with residents and industry, and in in doing so it has delivered unprecedented growth, pioneered the UK's largest self build programme and sustained low levels of homelessness. The highlights for Cherwell in this past year include:
- Delivery of a number of sites through its Build! ® self-build housing programme, which includes new build and refurbishment projects. The Build! ® programme involves customers undertaking works themselves in turn for a ‘sweat equity discount’ in the rent or sale price. As well as providing homes, Build! ® is delivering a range of other outcomes including apprenticeship opportunities and a modular ‘self finish’ training programme which includes skills such as fitting kitchens, site safety and second fix carpentry.
- Unlocking of a number of developer-led sites through its strategic housing and enabling role. This includes the start on site for the zero-carbon 6000 home scheme being led by A2 Dominion in NW Bicester.
- Sustaining low levels of homelessness despite welfare reform, with 90% less people in temporary accommodation than there were ten years ago. This is down to excellent partnerships, focused housing options and a range of innovative prevention measures including family based youth work and early intervention in schools.
- Improving private sector housing, using a range of enforcement powers and incentives to bring empty homes back into use and raise standards.
- Progressing work to promote off-site manufactured (advanced manufacturing) homes through plans for an off site innovation hub within the district.
Housing is a key priority for Cherwell, and this is demonstrated by scale of ambition and drive to create homes, optimise affordability and choice, and prevent homelessness. This ambition is underpinned with a strong belief that decent, affordable housing in the context of a thriving and diverse housing market is fundamental to the health of communities and the local economy. An exciting journey ahead!