JV North asks Government to solve utilities delays

JV NorthNews

JV North is urging the Government to alleviate building delays caused by utilities companies.

The consortium, whose members manage 73,000 homes in Manchester, Liverpool, Preston and Nottingham, estimates months of delays every year due to hold ups caused by decommissioning and connecting power supplies.

JV North is now calling on the Government to hold urgent talks with utilities companies to speed up the process that is preventing the delivery of hundreds of homes over the course of the HCA’s three-year development programmes.

In the 2011/15 Affordable Homes Programme JV North built 1,075 homes ahead of the March 31 deadline despite some schemes running close to the cut off point.

Before HCA grant could be claimed the homes had to be classed as complete which requires all power supplies being connected.

Nigel Wilson, who is Chairman of JV North and Chief Executive of Wythenshawe Community Housing Group, said: “We would welcome more productive conversations between Government and utilities companies; the current system is painfully slow.

“As home builders, we need more control of timetables so we can plan it into schemes.

“The current situation puts us at risk and potentially causes a loss of grant income due to no fault of our own.

“Some landlords were granted waivers if homes were built that still needed connections, however, this isn’t the case for all schemes.

“When demolition is needed before building work can begin, utilities companies have to decommission power supplies and there can be several firms involved which really slows things down.

“If there’s a big delay at the outset, landlords are left playing catch-up but sometimes it’s impossible to recover.

“The sector is committed and passionate about building homes – we’ve heard extreme stories of gazebos and tarpaulins being erected over sites so work could continue even in heavy rain to try and claw back the lost time.

“We give plenty of grace to utilities companies, plan well and in 2011/15 built the homes on time but experienced delays while we waited for water, gas and electricity connections.

 “The impact across the country is huge, especially over the course of a five year parliament.”

Sean Stafford of Saffer Cooper Consultancy, which oversees the programme for JV North, said: “We acknowledge that the problem is often beyond the control of our main contractors.

“Members are taking all the steps they can to work with contractors including employing – at an additional cost – specialist utility professionals at the outset of the job to help ease things but even this now has limited benefit.

“It is in everybody’s interest to accelerate the delivery of homes, what we are calling for are some joined up conversations.”