In July 2015 the Government announced their budget, which included changes affecting the funding and operation of providers of social housing. One important change was that all housing associations (such as RHP) and councils would have to reduce their rent levels by 1% per annum over the next four years. This reduction would have a significant impact on RHP’s future rental income and affected many investment decisions over the subsequent months and years.
RHP, with Richmond Council, had to consider the impact of this announcement on all schemes that included an element of social housing and Ham Close was one such scheme. The impact was significant and the consequence was that the number of options included within the high level viability appraisal had to be revised. In essence RHP could not afford to deliver a refurbishment option as it would involve significant costs and achieve no additional income. At a time of austerity that was just not affordable or realistic.
Therefore we were faced with a simple choice of either:
Wholesale redevelopment - complete demolition of all existing buildings on the site and new build re-provision of all residential and non-residential buildings, plus the provision of additional new build residential accommodation, or
Stay as we are - no improvement works.
If we are to redevelop Ham Close, the scheme must be financially viable. We think that a visionary, wholesale redevelopment scheme should be possible but further work is currently ongoing to really test what is possible, looks great and is truly viable.