Deputy prime minister announcse cash to unlock stalled developments and help deliver up to 48,600 homes
The government has announced a fresh injection of £225m to help unlock stalled housing development, which in total is expected to bring forward nearly 50,000 homes.
In a speech to the National House Building Council’s annual lunch today, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg is expected to announce the move, which will see the government provide £225m to help unlock a number of “large locally-led schemes”, ranging in size from 4,000 to 9,500 home.
The move will deliver in total up to 48,600 homes, he is expected to say.
Clegg is expected to say: “The sites have been held up for various reasons: cash-flow problems following the banking crash; bureaucracy and licensing issues, a lack of upfront investment for infrastructure.
“Some for up to ten years. And while all of them have strong local supporters, their communities are, understandably, becoming frustrated by these delays.”
“So we will unlock the barriers to investment. We will make sure that bureaucracy does not hold back these developments: bringing partners together to get action on the ground.
“And, where investment is required, I can announce new funding. We will provide £225m of government money which will also leverage private investment to effectively de-risk these or similar projects and get them moving.
“We will work with prospective developments and ensure that any public sector investment secures value for money from the taxpayer and once these developments are complete, the taxpayer will get that money back.”
Clegg is also expected to reaffirm the government’s commitment to run a competition to promote a new generation of large-scale housing projects, first set out in the government’s housing strategy last year.
He will say the government is currently working up a prospectus setting out more detail on the initiative, which is aimed at creating a new wave of garden cities and suburbs. “We’re hammering out the detail of that now - and there’s some fairly lively debate happening in government about how to do this.
“But I’m very clear: I want the prospectus to offer real and meaningful incentives so that it encourages projects that are big and bold,” he is expected to say.
“Government needs to get better at encouraging these kinds of long-term developments, which, by definition, take time and need certainty. Departments aren’t used to thinking beyond the next Spending Review, let alone the next Parliament - but we need to shift our sights.
“Of course, we can’t start making decisions for the next spending round now and we need to be realistic about the pressure on the public finances, which will continue for some time. But we can and we must ensure local areas have the time and the direction to prepare their bids.
“I want us to make the best offers to the most ambitious proposals. So not just 5000 new homes; but fifteen thousand, twenty-five thousand.
“I want us to encourage projects which are sustainable and socially diverse. Where it makes sense I want us to designate more, new greenbelt around new settlements- that’s something no government has really done for a generation.”
Mike Quinton, chief executive at NHBC, welcomed the move to provide more targeted support to “an ailing industry”. “The plan to create new Garden Cities and large-scale housing is bold, but at its heart lies a commitment to increase the number of homes being built, and we look forward to hearing more,” he said.
David Orr, chief executive of the National Housing Federation, welcomed Clegg’s comments. “For decades we have only been building about half the number of homes we need,” he said.
“We welcome the Deputy Prime Minister’s call for a long-term, comprehensive house building programme rather than ad-hoc initiatives, and hope this is reflected in wider housing policy.
“But such an ambitious programme shouldn’t come at the expense of other shorter-term measures which could deliver growth quicker, for example giving small parcels of public sector land over to developers to be built on.”