To address the affordable housing issue for staff, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), One Public Estate, The London Estates Delivery Unit (LEDU) and the Greater London Authority developed the Homes for NHS Staff toolkit.
Theme: Housing (in OPE)
The NHS is facing unprecedented demand. A key part of this challenge is recruiting and retaining staff in London. High house prices and rental costs and long commutes mean many are leaving or are not willing to move to London.
The Royal College of Nursing report “Living in the Red: the cost-of-living crisis for London’s nursing workforce” (2019) found that around 40 per cent of a nurse’s salary went on rent and over 57 per cent of London nurses were considering leaving the city in the next five years, due to pressure on housing costs and travel. Of these, 59 per cent indicate affordable homes might help them remain in London.
To address the affordable housing issue for staff, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), One Public Estate, The London Estates Delivery Unit (LEDU) and the Greater London Authority developed the Homes for NHS Staff toolkit. This is a step-by-step guide to support providers looking to deliver homes for their staff. It includes advice on planning, legal implementation, demand, feasibility and business case development. Homes for NHS Staff.
The toolkit was also supported by a number of pilot projects on surplus NHS land, to demonstrate how delivery might be facilitated.
Finchley Memorial Hospital was identified as one of these pilots. This project is led by the Community Health Partnership (CHP), with support from the North Central London (NCL) Integrated Care Systems (ICS) and London Estates Delivery Unit (LEDU). It is intended to provide 100% Affordable Homes for NHS staff on land surplus to clinical requirements.
The key challenge with the Finchley Memorial Hospital scheme was to find the balance between planning requirements, end user needs and making the business case for delivering 100% affordable NHS homes.
The Barnet and Enfield OPE partnership includes representatives from LB Barnet and Enfield (housing regeneration and estates teams), NHS, London Estates and Infrastructure Board and Transport for London.
To support the Homes for NHS Staff pilot at Finchley Memorial Hospital OPE contributed £70,000 towards feasibility and planning costs.
As part of the project a demand data analysis was undertaken by Savills. This provided quantifiable evidence of demand firstly to inform the proposals for Finchley and secondly to support the wider NCL area.
A landscape led approach informed the planning submission. This included:
- Responding to public concerns regarding building heights,
- Retaining as much green space as possible
- Improving the biodiversity of the retained green space,
- Providing landscaped areas around the proposed dwellings.
- Allowing public access through the site.
The CHP committed to undertaking meaningful stakeholder engagement during Covid restrictions.
Outline planning permission for up to 130 homes for NHS staff was granted in June 2021. This was underpinned by a Deed of planning obligation, under a section 106 of the Town and Planning Act 1990, 17 December 2021.
The business case relied on a number of factors including:
- In planning terms, the land could only be released for key worker housing
- Sufficient land could be developed to enable a viable scheme
- The use of the land for NHS staff would still generate a reasonable return/income.
The OPE partnership actively supports the project, which is a systemic approach to providing affordable homes for NHS staff - both within North Central London and more widely across the capital. This, in turn, will help to recruit and retain staff.
Stephen McDonald, Director of Growth at the London Borough of Barnet and Chair of the Barnet and Enfield OPE Partnership Board said:
The project is a great example of the OPE partnership facilitating collaboration among public sector partners to build new housing. It provides a blueprint for how we can use public sector land to create new housing and support good policy outcomes.”
Forecast to deliver the following outcomes over the next financial year
£1.5 million Capital Receipt
Land Released for 130 Homes
80 Jobs created
Other Benefits: Access to affordable housing for NHS Staff and a model of delivery that can be applied more widely.