Collaboration. Partnership. Cooperation. Strategic alliances. Whatever you want to call it, working together seems to be the current trend. We are all getting very good at talking the talk but when will we actually start doing it? As the need to build more affordable homes grows more acute by the day and targets for the number of new homes look likely to be missed, many will wonder when rhetoric will turn into action.
The Affordable Housing Review stated in no uncertain terms that collaboration was undoubtedly the way forward to achieve Government targets for housebuilding, and even recommended funds being made available specifically for this purpose. Can this partnership approach really work? Those who have tried it tend to respond with an emphatic “yes”, with the proviso that there will be some lessons learned along the way (a polite way of saying no partner is perfect!)
As a firm we have found that local authorities and housing associations have gravitated toward one another organically. Given that their objectives are not all that far apart on many issues, budget restraints are similar in many cases and given the large scale voluntary transfer (LSVT) history, the culture might not be worlds apart either. When two organisations come together to work on a shared goal, it throws up some tricky questions. Much like when two people come together, instead of deciding whose house you are going to live in, the optimism and excitement gives way to debates about legal structures, governance, management services and supervision.
Just because it’s difficult, doesn’t mean it won’t be worth it and our teams can help navigate this complexity. Over the next few months, we will be hosting a range of events targeted at both local authority and housing association delegates where we hope we can help facilitate conversations about working together and with any luck, actually make things happen.
Our first session will look at the target to build new homes, and what are the practical steps and key legal issues for Local Authorities and Housing Associations when coming together to select development sites and build new homes. Our Property, Construction, Property Litigation and Corporate/Commercial teams will look in turn at the legal issues involved to help break down barriers preventing partnership working.