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10 November 2023

Housing development skills “urgently needed” to build the social homes Wales needs

Housing development skills “urgently needed” to build the social homes Wales needs

Our sector is committed to meeting the projected housing need, and playing its part in seeing people through the ongoing housing crisis, while continuing to invest in existing homes and providing the vital services tenants rely on.

Over the past decade, Welsh housing associations have delivered more than 23,000 much-needed affordable homes for people across Wales and have ambitious plans to provide many more.

However, though development is continuing, all housing developers are facing ongoing challenges which continue to cause delays. These include high material costs, disruption to supply chains, and increasingly complex approval processes.

Another barrier which continues to have a significant effect on the sector’s development capabilities is the lack of skilled workers in development fields.

In recent years, a number of specialist planners and developers have retired or left the profession, which has resulted in a shortage across Wales.

This has led to delayed planning applications, resulting in more costly local authority delivery plans, and ultimately preventing vital development of social homes.

Addressing the gap

Housing associations have undertaken a number of initiatives to encourage new staff into the sector, equip them with vital construction, planning and development skills, and highlight career opportunities to help kickstart house building.

Wales and West Housing, for example, has launched its Grow Our Own trainee programme, which sees graduates being trained and developed to follow various career paths including development.

Newport City Homes meanwhile has teamed up with Y Prentis, an organisation which helps to find placements for apprentices, to help support the development of new homes on construction sites across south-east Wales.

The housing association recently shared details of the successful placement of its latest apprentice Brychan Lock, who is helping to transform the former Argos shop on Stow Hill into 36 apartments and three commercial units.

Sector-wide response

While our members seek to improve things locally, at Community Housing Cymru we have been working with housing associations, Welsh Government and partner organisations across the sector to help address development barriers together, with a view to unblocking development and encouraging further growth.

We are also supporting the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) and PwP Consulting as they look to create a social housing development academy, which will address the lack of suitably trained and skilled officers in the sector.

CIH has now launched a survey for housing professionals and teams working across the development sector in Wales to gain their opinions on whether a skills academy would help tackle this skills-related workforce barrier.

Those working in the Welsh housing sector and related professions who wish to complete the survey can do so here in English and Welsh, The deadline for responses is November 16th.

If you want to get in touch with our communications team contact comms@chcymru.org.uk