For a lot of people working in the sector, the types of public-private partnership (PPPs) – JV, Development Led, Strategic Partnership – are still not clear.
This session explored different types of PPPs available and give the audience a better idea of the ways in which the public and private sectors can collaborate to unlock more affordable housing.
- Kate Ives, Strategic Director, Countryside
- Meera Bedi, Head of New Build, Barnet Homes
- Jodie Norman, Head of Placemaking & Estates: Community, Socio-Economic Development, Notting Hill Genesis
- Mandar Puranik, Head of Area Regeneration and Economic Renewal, LB Ealing (chair)
- Amy Shaw, Partner, Trowers & Hamlins LLP
- Christine Wood, Senior Development Manager, Greater London Authority
Building effective partnerships
Countryside specialises in partnership housing. They currently have 20,000 homes in the pipeline in London that will span across 10 years. Everything they do is in collaboration with local authorities, the GLA, TfL, and other housing partners.
Despite their expertise, sometimes things don’t always go as expected. Kate from Countryside shared an example of a failed ballot in LB Camden.
“One of the things that we didn’t do enough of was listen to understand.” The community trusted Countryside could create beautiful buildings but didn’t understand the reality of the development. Countryside regrouped and worked hard to build relationships with the community, focusing on the key info they needed for reassurance. Sentiment is now changing at the small site.
With Countryside’s long history of developing and learning form partnerships for the delivery of affordable homes, Kate shared her top three tips for overcoming crisis through collaboration:
- Drive greater corporate embeddedness when two organisations are coming together. Countryside are currently putting together a method for doing that with local residents at the heart on Clapham Park with MTVH and Countryside. Setting KPIs with residents, where we monitor what matters to them, rather than Countryside and MTVH each monitoring their own position. Transparency and accountability.
- Think about more multi-site and sector partnerships. This helps to Support a more crafted response from local authorities on delivery with cross subsidising sites. And it helps move social and economic impact with more directive approach.
- Remember: “partnerships is absolutely a team sport.” You need to do everything thing together. If you don’t know how to organise this, specialists like Trowers & Hamlins can help.
“It’s important that we use these environments for learning from each other and we grow so we can overcome crisis together through collaboration”
Kate Ives, Countryside
Choosing your partners
“It’s important to think about the types of partner that you might want to work with and what they can bring to the table, not just think about what you’ve done in the past.” Amy from Trowers & Hamlins shared the importance of a shared ethos, and how to identify and work with those most suited to your organisation.
- Be honest about what you want out of a scheme. Do you need a developer partner? Do you need capital? An investor partner?
- Consider relative values such as ESG or social value. How far are they up your list of priorities? It may not be at the top of every scheme.
- How will partnerships and choice of partners bring additionality? Each partner should bring something more to the table whether it be construction expertise, credibility, access to supply chains, or funding. Think about this both before and during a partnership.
- Long term thinking must include aligned ambitions. Work these out. But it’s also important to prepare exit plans.
- Traditional partnerships tend to be bilateral. But Amy has seen real opportunity for additionality and supply coming forward in tripartite or multi-party partnerships.
London Development Panel 2
LDP2 is a procurement framework that aims to accelerate the delivery of homes on surplus public land. It does this by offering a streamlined route to the market that allows landowners to procure and appoint contract or development partners by using the mini competition process of the call off legal documents.
- Used over 20 sites across London
- 6000 homes
- 55% affordable
LDP2 will expire summer 2023, and with this in mind the GLA have started to consider lessons learnt and Christine from the GLA shared these with us.
What worked well?
The rigorous process of the initial procurement of the framework means those admitted to the panel understand the public sector well and this is a good basis for a collaborative working relationship.
This has helped to create a sector of the market that is aligned with the ambition of public landowners in relation to sustainability, affordable housing and quality design. This has resulted in higher quality, more focused bids than you might find with an open procurement process.
What could be improved?
The framework hasn’t necessarily been seen as the right fit for those who are moving away from more traditional PPPs. But the GLA is now considering how they can better align with these potential partners and their needs.
The framework may also benefit from greater flexibility and agility. It may need to offer more options for land structures and risk sharing.
Unlocking more affordable housing through PPPs
Opendoor Homes was set up as a subsidiary of Barnet Homes as a housing association for arm’s length management of development.
Meera from Opendoor Homes shared the governance restrictions and opportunities a model like this can bring.
Through this model Opendoor Homes has been able to use right to buy receipts to fund 100% affordable housing across 25 sites.
Opedoor Homes able to build for themselves as a housing association. But they also build for the borough without having to go through “the borough’s onerous layers of procurement,” explained Meera. PDH can now be more agile in relation to procurement.
However, there are now two layers of governance as everything Opendoor Homes does for the LB Barnet has to go through their own board and then the borough’s committees.
Finding the right partners to work with has been about going out to market and finding the right cultural fit for Opendoor Homes. Both private sector partners and Opendoor Homes have to understand that Borough Committee dates are fixed and cannot be moved and may only happen 4 times a year for key decisions.
To manage expectations of partners and the borough, they have but in all the milestone and governance hurdles that have to be gone through. Budget lines also have to be agreed. Meera emphasised that while this process is lengthy, once “everybody’s clear about what the expectations are […] then [you’ve] got a clear run at a project.”
Unlike registered providers (RPs) who are more susceptible to market ebbs and flows, this business case works for the borough local authorities are about placemaking and long-term investment in their communities.
Partnerships beyond practitioners
Placemaking plays a vital role in delivering homes and supporting communities. “10 years ago, effective property and estate management focused on providing clean fit for purpose a piece of real estate operating within an efficient financial model that worked for both tenant and property owner. That is no longer enough,” emphasised Jodie from Notting Hill Genesis. The delivery of homes must be an end-to-end journey, which includes the estate and immediate extended community.
“Placemaking helps us create vibrant places that reflect the needs and aspirations of the people that use them.”
Jodie Norman, Notting Hill Genesis
The right partnerships can deliver effective placemaking projects in bringing about significant cost savings and added social value. It is important to think about partnerships beyond traditional models like joint ventures.
Partnerships with community organisations can enable cost neutral delivery of covered community spaces. Through these organisations and spaces, practitioners can reach residents with a different voice. They can speak to those they wouldn’t normally engage with and fully understand a community’s wants and needs.
Partnerships with volunteer networks, residents or other local organisations can help deliver bespoke services for places. For example, Notting Hill Genesis pay dedicated residents to carry out gardening services in lieu of major contracts.
The initiatives and partnerships Notting Hill Genesis have all directly reduced the cost of delivering services and help to strengthen communities. And as Jodie explained, most importantly, “they provide intangible benefits to out places.”
Affordable Housing: Overcoming crisis through collaboration is a cross-sector research and events programme that aims to make practical recommendations.
Contact Anna Odedun, Head of Knowledge, to get involved. Thanks to project sponsors Countryside, Montagu Evans, Pollard Thomas Edwards, Potter Raper and Trowers and Hamlins, and our conference sponsors Altair, Inner Circle Consulting and Big Society Capital.