Funding will be restricted to regions that are pushing through housing provision, says boss of Housing Corporation

The chief executive of the Housing Corporation has warned that the South-east growth areas risk losing grants if they fail to deliver housing.

Jon Rouse told Building at last week’s National Housing Federation conference that funding would be related to performance, which he said had been patchy.

He said: “We will be directing investment at where the best performance is in terms of delivering sites. We will be looking carefully at the delivery vehicles and allocating our investment accordingly.” He added that investment would be in line with priorities outlined in the regional housing strategies.

Rouse said some areas had failed to bring forward schemes due to be delivered in 2004-06. “We are disappointed that some of the sites have not come forward that we would have expected,” he said.

“The growth areas are developing at different levels.” Rouse pointed to Cambridgeshire, Milton Keynes in Buckinghamshire and Ashford, Kent, as examples of areas that were delivering. Building understands that there are concerns over the housing numbers coming through in south Essex, including Thurrock, parts of east London and south Northamptonshire.

Rouse acknowledged that some local bodies had been held back by issues beyond their control, such as the downturn in the housing market, planning delays and problems with infrastructure.

Will McKee, chair of the Thurrock Urban Development Corporation, defended the area’s performance but Dale Meredith, Southern Housing Group development director, said Rouse’s stance was reasonable.

We will direct our investment where the best performance is

Jon Rouse, chief executive, Housing Corporation

He said: “There’s no sense in putting money in two or three years’ time in places where nothing is going to be delivered over four or five years.”

Rouse also played down concerns that the corporation’s grant programme, which comes out of John Prescott’s ODPM budget, might be squeezed to help pay for the Olympics. “We have a funding package that goes up to 2007/08. We are pretty secure,” he said.

But he admitted the corporation could only make forecasts about its budget up to 2008, the year that the current comprehensive spending review round concludes.

He said corporation funds would be used to help build the Olympic village, which is to be converted into social and key-worker housing once the Games are over.

He rejected criticism of the rules the corporation had put in place when allocating grant to developers. He said the corporation had to be careful because it was dealing with £3.9bn of public money.