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DCLG invites council bids for brownfield Housing Zones

Councils across the country are being encouraged to team up with developers and bid for government funding to build thousands of new homes on previously-developed land.

The bidding criteria for a share of the government’s £200m Housing Zone initiative has been published, with the government hoping to create 10 housing zones on brownfield land where it will be easier to build new homes quickly.

The zones are expected to be large enough to deliver 750 to 2,000 properties, and will complement plans for 20 Housing Zones in London.

The document says that Housing Zones offer an opportunity for local authorities to set out a vision for the transformation of large brownfield sites locally, and through the support government is offering, take the lead in realising that vision in partnership with private sector developers.

DCLG’s document says: “We want to see “something for something” deals with the local authority making a financial and/or resource contribution.”

To be eligible for designation as a Housing Zone, the majority of the zone must be on brownfield land, and the bid must either (a) include a bid for investment funding from one or a number of private sector partners or (b) confirm that the local authority only wishes to apply for Housing Zone designation and provide a development proposition that will be delivered without government investment.

Local authorities must also be able to provide evidence that a robust plan for the delivery of housing is in place or (if funding is being sought) will be in place before funding is allocated.

They must also be able to demonstrate that the local authority has the capacity (resources and skills) and support to deliver the Housing Zone.

Additionally, all investments will have to be State Aid compliant. Funding requests must be for capital expenditure in infrastructure and/or other site preparation works that will support economic growth. Private sector development partners must confirm that the project is fundamentally viable; and total public funding (including funding from other public sources) for each scheme that the infrastructure is serving must be below 50% of total project costs across the life of each scheme.

Housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis said: “We need to build more homes in this country, but it’s also vital we protect the countryside that people rightly treasure. That’s why the government is offering councils a share of £200m to prioritise development on brownfield land.

“The new dedicated Housing Zones will transform disused and derelict land, and ensure the new homes are built quickly in a process that is more straightforward for councils and builders.”

Expressions of interest must be submitted to the Homes and Communities Agency by noon on 3 October 2014.

(Image: c. John Blower)

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