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£2.3bn housing infrastructure fund launched

Words: Laura Edgar
New housing / Shutterstock_198728240

Communities secretary Sajid Javid has launched a £2.3 billion fund aimed at unlocking sites for 100,000 new homes in areas of high demand.

The money is being invested through the Housing Infrastructure Fund, which forms part of the £23 billion National Productivity Investment Fund.

Both funds were announced by chancellor Philip Hammond in the 2016 Autumn Statement.

Javid told the Local Government Association (LGA) conference that the investment would help to fund the building of “vital physical infrastructure projects” such roads, bridges and energy networks, “the absence of which continues to hold housebuilding back”.

The funding will also help to build schools, health care centres and digital infrastructure to accommodated growing communities and alleviate pressure on public services, according to the government.

Once proposals have been approved, it is expected that local authorities would begin building the necessary infrastructure immediately, with the homes to follow.

Javid said: “To build the homes this country needs, we need to deliver the right infrastructure in the right place at the right time.

“By investing in local infrastructure, we can help unlock building thousands of new homes in the areas where they are needed most.

“The Housing Infrastructure Fund will also make sure we have better public services in place for local communities.”

Lord Porter, chairman of the LGA, said: “We’re pleased that the government has followed through on its commitment to invest in infrastructure linked to housing and that this to be led by councils, as we outlined on our preliminary Housing Commission findings last year.

“Going forward, what’s crucial is that the arrangements to access this fund are flexible, especially around different housing tenures, and that all councils can access funds to deliver housing for their communities.

“Councils know their communities, and the places in them, best – and so it’s right that approaches to invest in local infrastructure are led by local authorities.”

Andrew Whitaker, planning director at the Home Builders Federation, said: “Funding necessary infrastructure will give local authorities the opportunity to remove barriers to developments being delivered.

“Direct support for critical infrastructure will not only unlock more housing, it should also help to accelerate planned developments.

“Local authorities that plan for growth should be supported and that will, in turn, allow house builders to get on and deliver the homes our communities so desperately need,” he added.

The fund also aims to support councils to step up their plans for growth, release more land for housing and get attractive, well-designed homes that people want to live in built at pace and scale.

Javid also announced that the government will launch a consultation on a new way for councils to assess their local housing requirements, which was first announced in the housing white paper in February, this month.

He said the aim is to ensure local plans begin life as they should, “with an honest, objective assessment of how much housing is required”.

This requires a “much more frank, open discussion with local residents and communities” and a new, straightforward approach so the process is understood by everyone.

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