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Sheffield City Region announces major housing pilot

Sheffield City Region (SCR) will begin to assess applications for new housing schemes as part of an £8m pilot project across the area.

The Housing Fund closed applications last week after receiving a high number of proposals for new projects to get underway by the end of the year.

The project was launched in September to prioritise schemes that can get underway quickly once approved.

It is part of the region’s attempt to plug the gap left by national housing investment programmes and quickly provide enough homes for the nine local authorities in the area.

Sir Nigel Knowles, chair of the SCR LEP, commented: “The way to get things done is through the SCR and our own Housing Fund has received an exceptionally high level of interest.”

However, he did refer back to yesterday’s Budget, specifically the £15bn of extra funding that the chancellor allocated to housing over the course of this Parliament.

“Although this is going some way to helping us to meet our housing ambitions, it is good to hear government say that it can and that it will do more to boost housebuilding,” argued Knowles.

In addition, Colin Blackburn, assistant director for housing, infrastructure and planning for the SCR’s Executive Team, said the region needed to build 70,000 new homes by 2024, although he was pleased with the current progress of 11,000 in the last three years.

“Put simply, SCR needs to build more homes. So, although we are building houses faster than any point in the last five years, and have managed to increase the rate of completion every year since 2012, we still need to do more to meet our ambitious housing target,” he explained.

“The SCR Housing Fund is absolutely key to this.”

The city region has been on a rocky road recently, with its claim to be the central region for Yorkshire devolution challenged by the wider Yorkshire agreement.

Last month, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) also submitted a devolution bid to the government.

The Leeds-based organisation asked for a total of £200m, with the bulk of the figures (£100m) specifically aimed at housing schemes.

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