The team overseeing the establishment of Communities England is exploring ways of using its £4bn a year budget to obtain City money for housing and regeneration.
Trevor Beattie, the southern England director of English Partnerships (EP), said he estimated that the organisation’s budget could attract an additional £10bn in private investment.
“In housing and regeneration we don’t attract enough institutional investment. We now have the chance to do things with the serious sums of money that we will be able to commit through Communities England,” said Beattie, who is a member of a joint Housing Corporation/EP transition board.
He said the increased budget would provide more opportunities for borrowing and for setting up partnerships with the private sector, such as EP’s English Cities Fund tie-up with Amec and insurer Legal and General. Beattie and John Walker, the caretaker EP chief executive, have been exploring mechanisms for attracting private capital.
While institutions like pension funds and insurers are big investors in commercial property, they represent a huge but relatively untapped source of funds for residential development.
Jon Rouse, the chief executive of the Housing Corporation, who is also a member of the transition board, said the increased budget would give the agency the opportunity to enter into longer term, strategic relationships with investors and developers.
This is the chance to deliver the sort of strategic regeneration we have been striving for for a long time
Beattie said: “This is the chance for EP to deliver the sort of strategic regeneration we have been striving for for a long time. EP and the corporation have both punched above their weight, but this will make it easier to achieve our ambitions.”
Nick Ebbs, director of the regeneration investment fund Blueprint, said there was a large appetite in the City for housing and regeneration investment. “The Treasury has come to the conclusion that there’s a huge weight of money that wants to find ways of investing in property. It’s the way forward,” he said.
Rouse refused to rule himself out of the running for the chief executive’s post at the agency.
“The job is a very attractive and enticing prospect, but I’m not going to make a decision on it yet,” he said.
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