I propose to take Questions Nos. 67 and 306 together.
A dedicated Housing Delivery Office (HDO) was established within my Department to support the accelerated delivery of housing across the social and private sectors, in an integrated and timely manner.
Working with the broader Housing and Planning Divisions in the Department, other key agencies, local authorities and the construction sector, the HDO has supported the roll-out of complex projects, including identifying and resolving barriers to delivery, and monitors progress across key sites as they progress. The HDO has worked with all key stakeholders involved in the delivery of housing, including from key disciplines such as architecture, planning, engineering and building control, project and construction management, quantity surveying, capital programme delivery and administration.
In the context of the increased delivery ambition in terms of social and affordable homes, my Department has been working with the City and County Management Association (CCMA) in terms of reviewing the most effective future operating platform for the HDO. While the Department has a pivotal role in terms of policy, legislation and the finance to enable local authorities deliver, the day to day delivery is a matter for local government and, with increased targets and delivery accelerating, the clear demand for an enhanced support structure is recognised.
The CCMA recently submitted a proposal to my Department setting out the benefits that a revamped and reconfigured HDO more closely situated within the local government sector could have in terms of supporting increased delivery. This approach could have significant benefits in terms of addressing a number of delivery challenges including:
- Social Housing Specification and Design;
- Procurement/ Contract Management/ Project Management; and
- Utilising Landbanks/ Achieving Mixed Tenure.
Given the similarities between these objectives and other established Project Management Offices, I have agreed with the CCMA that the HDO will therefore transition to the Local Government Management Agency (LGMA). The CCMA and LGMA are working to a Quarter 1 2020 initiation of the new office. We are fully agreed that the new unit will work closely, not only with my Department, but also with other key sectoral stakeholders, including the Land Development Agency and the Housing Agency, to align activity, share knowledge and expertise and drive efficiencies in the housing delivery process.