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Bids invited for £3m fund to tackle housing delays

Housing minister Brandon Lewis has launched the government’s £3m ‘Site Delivery Fund’ in an attempt to tackle planning-related delays that can prevent development starting on housing sites.

The fund, which is available across the two years 2014-15 and 2015-16, is designed to provide short-term capacity support where it is most needed, and will be distributed on a competitive basis through a single bidding round.

Councils with the greatest numbers of large housing developments recently agreed will be given priority for the funding, as well as those who can show how they will make each pound go further by enabling faster starts on site.

The government hopes the move will help tackle issues such as completing financial agreements and signing-off conditions attached to planning permissions, which can delay the start of work even when the principle of development has been agreed.

All local planning authorities who deal with applications for housing are eligible to bid, whether individually or in partnership. Grants to successful bidders are expected to amount to around £50,000 per authority – depending on bids received and the funding profiles requested by each authority.

Each bid will be assessed on a scale of one to 10 points, where 10 is the maximum score available. These points are split equally between pre-existing evidence of the number of planning permissions involving applications for major residential development made over the past year (to end March 2014), and the evidence in the bid of how an award would be used to accelerate starts on site.

Lewis said: “In 2010 we inherited a housing industry in paralysis – where neighbours and developers were at loggerheads, aspiring homeowners couldn’t get on the property ladder and house building levels were at their lowest since the 1920s.

“Since then we’ve got Britain building, not least through our planning reforms to put power in the hands of communities. Now, the challenge is to get work started on sites where development has been agreed as soon as possible. The £3m fund will do just that, getting work started on as many as 85 sites, creating jobs as well as up to 25,000 new homes.”

Local authorities have until midnight 31 August 2014 to submit their bid electronically.

(Image: c. John Blower)

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