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Government cash to support community housing

Words: Laura Edgar
Kit Malthouse / Chris McAndrew

Housing minister Kit Malthouse has launched a £8.5 million fund that aims to support the delivery of thousands of discounted homes for communities.

From 13 May, volunteer groups can apply for between £10,000 and £50,000 to help to identify suitable sites for the homes, get planning permission for them and provide technical support.

In addition, free specialist advice and guidance will be made available for the participants in the pilot.

The discounted homes will be for younger people and families in need of housing to be delivered through locally led neighbourhood plans, particularly in areas where they are locked out of the housing market.

An example of this, the government explained, is the sale of a three-bed home from the Cornwall Community Land Trust for £160,000 compared with an average property price in the county of over £230,000.

Malthouse said: “Supporting volunteers who are passionate about building more of the homes we need in their communities is something I’m fully behind, and I want to see far more people getting involved across England.

“This funding is on top of the £26 million already available to help get neighbourhood plans over the line, which act as powerful tools for communities to be involved in the planning of their local area – providing different housing types for those who need new homes.”

Martin Tett, housing spokesman for the Local Government Association, said the fund is a "positive step'.

“It is important that local community groups receive the encouragement and support to ensure they work with councils so that the right people get the right support.

“However, in order to tackle the national housing shortage councils also need to be empowered to build more affordable, good-quality homes at scale, and fast."

He suggested councils should be able to keep 100 per cent of the Right to Buy receipts so they can replace any homes sold.

Image credit | Chris McAndrew