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£200m fund launched for new brownfield housing zones

Words: Sam Waddicor
Brownfield development

Councils across England will be able to bid for a share of £200 million to build new homes on brownfield sites, housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis has announced.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said the £200 million would be used to create 10 new housing zones on brownfield land, each large enough to deliver between 750 and 2,000 homes. This runs in parallel to a London-only bidding process to deliver 20 new zones in the capital using £400 million from the Mayor and government. 
The criteria outlined by the DCLG in the Housing Zones prospectus shows two elements to the application process. Firstly, authorities can apply simply to designate a site of majority brownfield land as a housing zone. In this case the council must also submit a bid for investment from any private sector partners along with their own bid for designation, or confirm that they only wish to designate an area they will developm without government investment. 
The second form of application is for investment funding. Bids, among other things, will need to show that each of their private sector partners believes their project is viable, as well as demonstrate how additional investment from the government would increase the rate of development beyond the anticipated rate.
All funding application must also be submitted with a housing zone application.
The Housing Zones Prospectus also outlines how eligible projects will be prioritised. For housing zones the most important factor is the extent to which a designation would accelerate housing delivery and maximise regeneration opportunities. For funding, the DCLG is prioritising projects that are most likely to deliver housing early and at the greatest acceleration above normal. 
Lewis said: “We need to build more homes in this country, but it’s also vital we protect the countryside that people rightly treasure. That’s why the government is offering councils a share of £200 million to prioritise development on brownfield sites.
“The new dedicated housing zones will transform disused and derelict land, and ensure the new homes are built quickly in a process that is more straightforward for councils and builders.”
Lewis has also specifically highlighted LoCal homes as an example for prospective bids to look at. In particular, their commitment to offsite construction techniques to build high quality homes in a day.
Bidding for the fund will formally open on August 22 when local authorities will be able to submit applications through the HCA’s partner portal. All the criteria for bidding and prioritisation of bids can be found in the Housing Zones Prospectus.