Build on brownfield sites to slash social housing waiting lists, says EDAROTH

Mark Powell, managing director at EDAROTH

EDAROTH has called for action to unlock brownfield land to help cut social housing waiting lists across the country. 

The affordable and social housing company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Atkins, has launched its latest white paper - New Approach, Better Homes, Brighter Future.

The report, which analyses data from the Brownfield Register and the latest available social housing waiting lists, illustrates how capacity for building new homes outstrips the waiting list demand in many parts of England.

EDAROTH says unlocking dormant brownfield sites and promoting more effective use of modern methods of construction are realistic solutions to meeting housing demand.

It says not only would unlocking brownfield sites help create the necessary capacity for social housing, but it would also drastically reduce the cost of keeping people in temporary accommodation. 

Mark Powell, managing director at EDAROTH - an acronym of Everybody Deserves A Roof Over Their Head – said the number of people identified as living in temporary accommodation had risen by 74% in the last 10 years, according to research from Shelter published earlier this year. 

Of that total, more than two-thirds had been living in temporary accommodation for more than a year.

“By transitioning households from temporary accommodation into social rented homes, we estimate local authorities across England could save in excess of £1bn,” he added. “This saving could then be used to offset the delivery of up to 14,000 new social and truly affordable homes each year.

“To beat the social housing emergency, I believe we must drive market reform and speed up planning with a presumption in favour of net zero compliant homes. 

“If we do this, we will be able to accelerate the delivery of energy-efficient, truly affordable homes. However, if we continue to rely on traditional methods and approaches, I believe the housing crisis will deepen, with low-income households and the most vulnerable in our society feeling the harshest effects.”

The affordable homes developer which uses modern methods of construction (MMC) says that low-income and vulnerable households will remain trapped in unaffordable, insecure and in some cases, unsafe homes without a new approach in place.

EDAROTH entered the housing market three years ago, to help local authorities and the Government address the shortage of social housing. 

However, according to the new report, very little has changed in that time. The Government’s most recent affordable housing statistics show there were 7,500 new social homes delivered in 2021-22. 

But with more than one million households currently on social housing waiting lists across England, EDAROTH says this build rate falls woefully short of widely accepted estimates that at least 90,000 new social homes need to be built every year.

Unlocking under-utilised brownfield sites, often overlooked by large-scale housebuilders, could help local authorities find suitable locations for new social housing.

EDAROTH has analysed the potential capacity for homes on brownfield land from the Brownfield Register, and calculated the percentage of social housing waiting lists it could absorb.

For example, in Manchester, the waiting list from 2022 was 14,912, while the estimated number of homes that could be built on brownfield sites stands at 75,585

The white paper report outlines how modern methods of construction can make a significant contribution to solving the housing crisis by providing low energy, affordable and sustainable homes quickly, driving economic regeneration to support the levelling up agenda and meet net zero goals. 

This is supported by analysis published on behalf of the Local Government Association (LGA), National Federation of ALMOS and Association of Retained Council Housing (ARCH) in September 2021– estimating that building 100,000 new social homes each year could contribute £15bn to the UK’s economy.

To shore up demand and support the MMC sector, the EDAROTH white paper is calling for increased incentives for local authorities, public sector bodies, and housing associations, to vastly increase the supply of social housing at scale, utilising MMC.

EDAROTH believes there is a strong argument for the urgent prioritisation of Government and local authority-owned brownfield land to deliver new homes which demonstrate clear societal and economic value.

Powell added: “To beat the social housing emergency, I believe we must harness new ideas and approaches. If we do this, we will be able to accelerate the delivery of energy-efficient, affordable homes.”

If you would like to contact Karen McLauchlan about this, or any other story, please email