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The HCA will be known as Homes England from October 2017 and the rebranded body plans a more activist approach to meet the government’s challenges of building 250,000 homes a year that will open up the housebuilding market. At this year’s HMI conference in October 2017 at the Barbican Centre in London, Homes England chief executive Nick Walkley pledged to do more to help small-to-medium-sized housebuilders and bring forward large publicly owned sites such as former hospitals or military sites. Citing the HCA’s joint venture with the English Cities Fund and a 10% stake taken in May this year in a real estate investment trust aimed at developing private rented sector schemes, Walkley said: “We will be doing more innovative things. Homes England will be more of an activist in the market. He added: “We will seek to a more proactive and meaningful relationship. The launch of Homes England creates an opportunity to renew relationships. Infrastructure is a major challenge.” Mr Walkley also promised a more “proactive stance on modern methods of construction (MMC)”. Evidenced recently by Legal & General's commitment to modular housing, by opening a factory near York specifically to build modular homes, on the body’s third generation Delivery Partner Panel to bring forward an £8 billion residential-led development programme on public land. The third DPP includes 70 companies ranging from major contractors such as Interserve, Kier, Laing O’Rourke and Wates to medium-sized outfits such as Esh, Seddon and Tolent, and housebuilders including Barratt and Keepmoat. Registered social landlords such as Clarion and London & Quadrant Housing Trust have also been appointed and signs of Homes England’s renewed commitment are evident in Glenigan’s data, which shows that the value of contracts awarded by the body has spiralled this year as bigger projects are tackled. In Glenigan’s latest ranking of the industry’s top 50 clients, the HCA is ranked seventh after letting £765.2 million-worth of contracts in the 12 months to Q3 2017. At the same stage in 2016, the then HCA was ranked in 25th position after letting £199.4 million-worth of work. The increase has come partly through awarding bigger contracts. Glenigan’s research, which only covers contracts valued at £250,000 or more, shows that the average Homes England award in the 12 months to Q3 2017 was valued at £40.7 million. At Q3 2016, the average award was £14.2 million. This illustrates that the agency’s quest to bring forward larger projects is already making an impact at a time when housing is at the heart of government policy. “The focus on housing supply is rising across Whitehall,” concluded Mr Walkley. “Now is the opportunity to win the argument but it will need some compromise. We are absolutely committed to diversification of suppliers and the forms of housing. That will mean new entrants and competition. A process that starts with protectionism is doomed to fail.” For the housing industry, a time of great change is about to begin.

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