UK: Schools And The Provision Of Affordable Housing

Last Updated: 28 March 2019
Article by Chris Billington and Emma Ridge

Assessing the implications of an absence of affordable housing for teachers, and considering how schools' surplus land could provide solutions.

There have been a number of recent references to concerns expressed by schools around the lack of affordable housing and its impact on the recruitment and retention of teachers.  Reports in the press have highlighted the plight of teachers threatened by homelessness.  The absence of affordable housing does of course have much wider social implications.  However, some schools have challenged their own role and whether they can do something positive to help.

Government strategy

The Department for Education published its Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy in January 2019 highlighting four key barriers and strategy priorities to address them.  Within this strategy is:

  • recognition of the budgeting challenges schools face and that more is being asked of them
  • a commitment to exploring whether there is a demand from teachers for new homes on surplus school land and whether an extension of permitted development rights is needed to speed up such developments.

This does not, however, include any funding commitments.

The housing issue is not new

The Teachers' Housing Association was established in 1967 and provides rented accommodation for people in housing need, particularly those associated with education. The Teacher's Building Society was founded in 1966 and provides mortgages and savings accounts to teachers. Both organisations are mutuals, owned by their members rather than by commercial investors who would generally be seeking to maximise a financial return. Other housing associations will support keyworkers, that is public sector workers including those in education, with lower-than-market rents.  For those in a stronger position, there are various Help to Buy and Shared Ownership schemes.

It is not unusual for new housing developments, or refurbishments, to including planning conditions to make provision for affordable housing. Since 2010 local authorities have been able (and since 2014 are required) to charge a Community Infrastructure Levy on developments, which raises funds for the provision or improvement of local infrastructure (such as school provision).  However CIL monies cannot at present be used to support affordable housing; although a 2018 Government consultation opened up this possibility this has not followed through.

So what can a school do?

Again in many ways, this is nothing new.  Maintained schools have long provided homes for members of staff, such as caretakers.  Academies have inherited many of these arrangements when a caretaker transferred over on conversion, including obligations to rehouse the caretaker on retirement.  Similarly the few maintained boarding schools and academies with boarding provision that exist also make provision for housing staff, as part of their boarding duties.  Such arrangements may be few and far between, but they demonstrate the principle that maintained schools and academies can and do make provision for housing staff.

The issue is therefore, not can but how schools make provision for housing staff.

Independent schools, many of which are educational charities similar to an academy trust, have long made provision for staff accommodation (for both teaching and non-teaching staff).  This includes provision of rented accommodation, assistance with buying local homes through loans (unsecured and secured through second or third mortgages) and private shared-ownership schemes (where the school may jointly own the accommodation bought by the teacher).  There are various advantages and disadvantages of such schemes, including tax issues that need to be considered.  However, such support was not introduced overnight and independent schools have had a long period of time to establish their local arrangements.

Most maintained schools and academies will not have the luxury of spare cash to be able to finance such schemes, or at least not so that they can be made available to all staff.  As noted above, attention has been given to what some schools may have; and that is surplus land.

For a great many years there has been opposition to schools disposing of playing fields, which usually includes any unbuilt land that a school occupies.  There are various regulations that govern how any land identified as surplus to a school's requirements can be disposed of.

Land ownership

A significant starting point to be overcome is the simple fact that whilst some maintained schools will own their school site, most do not.  Land will be vested in the local authority or perhaps a foundation or diocese. Some academy trusts will own land, but many more will have a lease, either from the local authority or a private landlord, or occupy under a licence, particularly for church schools.  Accordingly prioritising housing for staff is very likely to be a collaborative project rather than something that is wholly within the control and power of the school.

Of course, even if sufficient surplus land can be made available, the homes will have to be built.  Again most schools would not be in a position to finance such a project. There are options, which include discussions with commercial developers and housing associations.  Each party will have different needs, priorities and expectations.  Work will be required to ensure that prioritising housing for school staff is a common objective.

A further option is the government-owned property company locatED which it has been suggested could extend it operation to support housing for staff alongside the delivery of new school places. 

Wrigleys' experience

Wrigleys has worked for many years with a range of not-for-profit organisations in the charity and voluntary sector, including community groups which have sought to tackle the lack of affordable housing in different and novel ways. For most schools wishing to support housing for staff, there will need to be some form of collaboration with others.  Other (non-commercial) options do exist alongside registered housing associations, which should be considered.

Community land trusts

Community land trusts (CLTs) are a growing movement, set up for the purpose of furthering the social, economic or environmental interest of a local community by acquiring and managing land and assets.  Anyone can become a member of a CLT. 

Further background on what a CLT is can be found in an earlier article, available on the Wrigleys' website, along with a list of some of our CLT clients.  A 'local community' can be defined by common interest or geography, such as a group of teachers or a school working with local groups to ensure quality education provision. 

An example is London CLT's St Clements scheme which offered 23 permanently affordable homes with prices linked to local wages.  This is a radical scheme that deliberately decouples the cost of homes from the housing market where Wrigleys acted for a number of the eventual buyers.  London CLT is looking at a number of other sites and teachers who are struggling in London would be well advised to look at London CLT to see whether they would be eligible for a property.

There are various projects around the country; one at the stage of buying a site is in Oxford, where the intention is to let at perpetually affordable rents, with the support of the local council.

Community-led housing

Community-led housing groups, such as cohousing groups and housing co-operatives, have been around  for longer than CLTs (at least in the UK).  Again there is an earlier article on what is cohousing on our website (here). These organisations can offer an alternative to buying your own property and give members a chance to live at least some of their life communally.  Communal living, with the opportunity to close your own front door when you want, can appeal to diverse groups of people, from those moving to a new area to older people who want to live in a supported environment.

A housing co-operative is particularly suited to individuals or couples seeking a smaller, shared house option, although there are larger, multi-unit models. 

A number of examples of current cohousing groups can be found on the UK Cohousing Network's website and some of those that Wrigleys have acted for recently can be found on our website, for cohousing and housing co-operatives.

Examples of how these work are project in:

  • Colchester, which involved around 30 properties with a central communal building (known as a common house) where residents can chose to share kitchen and dining and lounge facilities (although each property does have its own separate facilities). 
  • Leeds involving 20 eco-build homes in a mix of co-operative and cohousing principles, including family and individual rental units.

Schools already support housing for staff

As noted above, schools already support housing for staff.  Smoothing the playing field disposal rules and planning process will likely help, but is not an essential first stage for increasing the number of schools supporting staff in this way.  Most schools will find it difficult to go it alone and few will, at least initially, have the requisite skills or experience to manage any large scale project.  Collaboration will be key and there are existing examples of effective affordable housing schemes from across the not-for-profit sector.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions