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Infrastructure aid, build to rent and custom housing form Pickles' plan

27 Jun 14 Communities secretary Eric Pickles has set out how three government initiatives will further help to boost house-building.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles
Communities secretary Eric Pickles

While the Chancellor has been taking the headlines for Help to Buy mortgage assistance schemes to help the demand side, the communities secretary has schemes of his own to boost the supply side.

Yesterday Mr Pickles he announced millions of pounds of investment to boost the supply of new homes.

Speaking at the Chartered Institute for Housing conference in Manchester, Mr Pickles said that considerable progress had been made to “fix the broken housing market” but that there is still more to do.

The three initiatives he highlighted were:

  • the local infrastructure fund, which is providing £53m to accelerate construction of more than 7,000 homes on large developments in Manchester, Medway, Swindon and Kettering. These new deals will take the number of homes supported by the fund past 80,000 since the scheme began in 2012.
  • the build to rent programme is providing £49m to support three new schemes in Hampshire and Croydon. The funding will help deliver at least 540 homes specifically for private rent, bringing the total number of homes supported through the programme so far to over 1,600
  • promotion of self-build through a ‘serviced plots’ scheme. A prospectus will be published for a £150m investment fund for 10,000 ‘serviced plots’. This funding is expected to help bring forward ‘shovel ready’ sites where people can hire a developer to build their own custom-build home.

Mr Pickles said that more than 445,000 new homes had been built in the past four years.

“The resurgence in house building is clear evidence that the government’s long-term economic plan is working, but there is still more to do,” he said. “The investment we’re announcing today will help us meet this challenge by driving up the supply of new homes in every corner of the housing market. From new places for rent to people designing to those building their own properties – we will support and deliver the homes this country needs.”

Local infrastructure fund

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The latest four sites to be supported are:

  • Manchester City Fringe: £18.8m will help unlock 1,500 new homes on the Collyhurst, Ancoats and Lower Irk Valley. The investment will pay for roads and land acquisition needed to support the delivery of the scheme, which will ultimately include 7,000 homes
  • Medway Valley: £19.5m will kick-start a 2,350-home development. The investment will pay for the Medway Valley Crossing to make possible two remaining residential sites on the east bank of the River Medway
  • Tadpole Farm: £5.5m will pay for infrastructure to pave the way for a 1,695-home urban extension to the north of Swindon.
  • Kettering: £14.5m will provide roads and drainage infrastructure for the first 1,750 new homes of a proposed 5,500 urban extension, business and energy park to the east of Kettering.

Build to Rent

The funding announced yesterday will support the delivery of new homes for private rent on three new sites under the Build to Rent programme, bringing the total to more than 1,600 homes.

  • Berewood, Hampshire: £6.3m loan for  106 new homes
  • Aldershot, Hampshire: £23.7m loan for 219 new homes
  • Croydon, south London: £19.8m loan for 216 new homes

Serviced plots prospectus

A new £150m investment fund is expected to bring forward up to 10,000 serviced building plots for custom build housing. The fund is intended to incentivise a different way of bringing forward land for development, for sites of 10 homes or more.

The fund is available to developers and community groups, either working individually or as part of a joint venture with individual custom builders or a local authority. The developer will prepare the plots for sale and may choose to work with individuals to build they home they want, subject to final approval from the local council of their plans. Alternatively individuals can buy a plot and then commission their own builder to build their home for them.

A demonstration site at Park Prewett, near Basingstoke, will begin shortly, the government said.

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