Important steps have already been put in place, since January 2018, to improve the timelines involved in the advancement of new social housing capital construction projects, from initial proposal to placing the construction contract and starting on site. A timeline of 59 weeks has been agreed with the City and County Management Association (CCMA) for this process, which compares favourably with private sector construction projects.
The 59-week timeline includes the time required for my Department to assess and approve the projects. However, this is just a small element of the 59-week timeline; the majority of the time is given over to the local authorities' own work in designing projects, engaging consultants and contractors and obtaining planning approval through the Part 8 process.
For example, after design work is complete and planning permission has been obtained, 10 weeks are provided for local authorities to undertake tendering and assess the proposals received. 3 weeks are then provided for my Department to give final funding approval. As well as all parties working to the above timelines, technical advisors from the Department also meet directly with their local authority colleagues on a quarterly basis to address issues with social housing construction projects as they arise. This continuous dialogue also helps the advancement and approval of new construction projects.