The Government has launched a new £25m fund to help local authorities deliver the high quality, well-designed homes that the country needs.
Yesterday, the Housing and Planning Minister, Alok Sharma, announced that the Planning Delivery Fund is now open for bids, and will support ambitious local authorities and third sector organisations in areas of high housing need to plan for new homes and infrastructure.
Initially opening up £11m of the fund, councils will be able to apply to help gain the skills or capacity they need to deliver high quality housing growth at scale and implement wider planning reforms. The fund is aimed at encouraging more innovation in the design quality of new housing developments, as well as providing design advice and support to local authorities.
Government Unlocks £25m to Deliver more Homes
As part of the Government’s plans to raise housing supply to 300,000 per year on average by the mid-2020s, as announced in the Autumn Budget, a package of measures has been revealed to boost local authority planning capacity, support councils in taking a proactive role in planning, and encourage ambition and leadership in the delivery of new communities.
Other measures announced along with the £25m fund include:
- A further £3m funding to support the delivery of the 14 garden villages that are part of the Government’s existing programme.
- A consultation on plans to allow the creation of locally led New Town Development Corporations and help speed up the delivery of new garden towns.
Sharma comments: “Locally led developments have enormous potential to deliver the scale and quality of housing growth that we need. By supporting our local authorities, we will be able to unlock more homes where people want to live.
“These measures, including the £25m of Government support, will help develop new communities that will not only help deliver high quality well-designed homes, but will also bring new jobs and facilities, and a boost to local economies.”
Across England, the Government is currently supporting 24 locally led garden cities, towns and villages, which have the potential to deliver around 220,000 homes.
Backed by £16m funding, a further £3m has been allocated to 14 garden villages in the programme, to fund dedicated staff, studies and assessments that are essential in delivering successful garden villages.
The Government’s Housing White Paper in February 2017 committed to the creation of New Town Development Corporations, which would be overseen by the local authority or authorities covering the area proposed for a new garden community, rather than by Whitehall. The Government is now seeking views on this proposal.
The first part of the Planning Delivery Fund allocation of £11m will be open to bids for the financial years 2017-18 to 2018-19.
A garden town is a development of more than 10,000 homes. Garden villages are smaller settlements of between 1,500 and 10,000 homes.
The 14 garden villages are: Long Marston, Oxfordshire Cotswold, Tresham, Culm, Welborne, West Carclaze, Dunton Hills, Spitalgate Heath, Halsnead, Longcross, Bailrigg, Infinity Garden Village, St Cuthberts and Handforth.
Russell Quirk, the Founder and CEO of online estate agent eMoov.co.uk, responds to the announcement: “Another snappy Government initiative in an attempt to grab headlines and, while their intentions might be good, the money itself is quite pathetic in the grand scheme of things.
“Whilst we argue whether we should pay £40 billion or £50 billion to the EU, such derisory sums supposedly aimed at helping solve our housing crisis are disappointing to say the least, and to open the fund up to councils and third sector organisations via a Blue Peter-esque competition format will only further slow the process.”
He continues: “An additional £3m for ‘studies and assessments’ of the already existing garden village initiative shows how off the pace the Government is. By now, they should be laying foundations, and to allocate just £100,000-£275,000 to each of a number of garden village schemes is akin to knocking the cost of Phil Hammond’s milk bill off of the national deficit.”