New £18m capacity fund launched to help councils ‘turbo-charge’ home building

The housing minister, Gavin Barwell, has announced an extra £18m of capacity funding to speed up house building on large brownfield sites, potentially creating thousands of new homes. 

Councils will now be able to bid for a share of the ‘capacity fund’ which is designed to help tackle planning issues that can cause delay in construction. It is hoped that the money will accelerate the delivery of up to 800,000 homes and infrastructure as part of a wider home building drive. 

Additional measures announced by the government include creating six new ‘housing zones’ that will support development on brownfield land, and government funding for a new locally-led Garden Town at Otterpool Park, Shepway, in Kent intended to provide new local jobs and homes. 

Barwell said: “We want to turbo-charge house building on large sites to get the homes built in the places people want to live, so that this country works for everyone, not just the privileged few. 

“These sites offer enormous potential to transform brownfield land into new homes and our £18m funding will help get them built much sooner.” 

Capacity funding aims to prevent large-scale, long-term developments from stalling by allowing local authorities to obtain additional resources and expertise for the projects. The bidding process for this fund will be overseen by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA). 

The funding will primarily be aimed at large sites of 1,500 units or more and housing zones, areas of brownfield land where councils develop in co-operation with private developers. Developers may also apply for funding from the Home Building Fund, which is setting aside £3bn for house builders. 

The LGA praised the government’s offer of more support to deliver homes, saying that councils are approving ‘almost nine in 10’ planning applications. However, Cllr Martin Tett, the LGA’s housing spokesman, argued that more can be done to help council planning departments, such as allowing councils to set planning fees locally. 

“Councils are best placed to bridge the gap between housing need and future building levels and are keen to see and support delivery at speed,” said Cllr Tett. 

“There is no silver bullet and a housing strategy should include measures that create a renaissance in council housebuilding. To spark this, government also needs to introduce a range of further measures which include allowing councils to borrow to invest in housing and keep 100 per cent of the receipts from properties sold through Right to Buy to build new homes.” 

There are now more than 26 housing zones across the country with 31 more planned within London as part of the DCLG’s plans to build thousands of homes on surplus public sector land. 

The six new housing zones are: 

  • Sheffield Housing Zone, South Yorkshire
  • North East Lincolnshire Urban Housing Zone, with sites in Grimsby and Cleethorpes
  • Hoyland-Wombwell Strategic Housing Zone, Barnsley, South Yorkshire
  • Sandwell Housing Zone, Sandwell, West Midlands
  • Pennine-Lancashire Housing Zone, with sites in Blackburn and Burnley
  • Wirral Waters Housing Zone, Merseyside

Sheffield City Council won an extra £675,000 government funding to encourage more house building and regeneration. The local authority is topping up funding to create a £1.3m scheme which will make brownfield land, previously used for industry or commerce, more attractive to developers. 

Cllr Mazher Iqbal, cabinet member for Infrastructure and Transport at Sheffield City Council, said: “I’m delighted that we’ve won this extra funding which will help us encourage thousands of new homes in Sheffield.”

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Alan Whittaker   14/11/2016 at 13:33

These turbo charge zones are fine ,or so it would seem, the problems will come when the infrastructure to go with them ie roads , schools ,gp's ,social care are not provided and with the austerity regime still in place there will be no money available to local government to provide them

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