Developers with stalled sites of just 15 homes can now bid for a share of a £100m pot to get schemes back on track. The government said that this could potentially deliver up to 2,000 new homes.
The Get Britain Building fund has already helped revive sites in Ashford, Kent, and in Bath. Funding has been allocated to 40 schemes so far, set to deliver more than 3,200 new homes once contracts are agreed. It is expected that all allocations to successful schemes from the original shortlist will be made over the summer.
But there is still £570m left in the kitty and therefore the scheme is being extended. Previously, builders bidding for cash had to have plans for at least 25 homes on their sites.
Housing minister Grant Shapps said: "By spreading the net wider and boosting the number of eligible sites we can offer more help to builders both large and small. We saw huge appetite last time for this funding but some developers later found they could build without the fund. We need to be sure every single pound of taxpayers' money works as hard as it can so we can get as many homes as possible out of Get Britain Building. That is why I'm inviting further bids.
"We've already started seeing the benefits this is bringing to the industry and the economy as a whole. I now want to see as many firms as possible grabbing this opportunity to get the diggers back on site."
The fund is administered by the Homes & Communities Agency, the body responsible for assessing applications. The agency's chief executive, Pat Ritchie, said: "I'm pleased that we are able to extend the reach of the Get Britain Building programme, giving many more developers who have struggled to secure finance the opportunity to apply for the investment they need to get their stalled projects back on track.
"As with the original submissions, the HCA will continue to be thorough in our due diligence, and will only support those schemes backed by the community, which boost the local economy and provide a secure and value for money investment for the taxpayer."
The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) welcomed the move. Chief executive Brian Berry said: “It’s very good news that the government has recognised the value of smaller developments to deliver much needed new homes. Smaller housing developments are often more acceptable to local communities because they are more sympathetic to their local needs. They also have the benefit of providing more local jobs which is good for the local economy.
“Additional help the Government could provide to help increase the supply of homes would be to reduce the tax burden on small house builders by providing a blanket exemption from the soon to be implemented Community Infrastructure Levy which will add around £43,000 to the cost of a building a two bedroom house in some parts of the country.”