New measures to level up England’s cities, recover from the pandemic and help provide much-needed new homes were announced by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick today.
Following a consultation with planners, councils and the public, the government has decided to replace its formula for establishing housing need in local areas with a new method to help councils with the aim of delivering 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s, while prioritising brownfield sites and urban areas.
Under the proposals, cities will be encouraged to plan for more family homes – which are the right size and type for families to live in – and to make the most of vacant buildings and underused land to protect green spaces. The plans will encourage more homes to be built in England’s 20 largest cities and urban centres, boosting local economies by supporting jobs in the building sector, and revitalising high streets with the footfall new residents bring.
The government also intends to revise the so-called ‘80/20 rule’ which guides how much funding from the £7.1 billion National Home Building Fund is available to local areas to help build homes. This will establish a new principle to ensure funding is not just concentrated in London and the South East.
While the focus of these measures shifts the emphasis of development from London and the South East to the 20 largest cities and the Combined Authorities, the government is also planning to launch a new £100 million fund to support brownfield development, estates regeneration, development on public sector land and self and custom-build serviced plots open to councils across England, apart from those Mayoral Combined Authority areas that recently benefited from our £400 million brownfield fund. A significant portion of this new £100m will go to supporting self and custom-builders and councils are urged to consider and start preparing bids for this fund.
The government has also confirmed over £12 billion of investment in affordable housing over the next five years, including the new Affordable Homes Programme, as announced in the Spending Review last month. The new programme is open and can be used to support councils and housing associations in delivering affordable homes. The programme will unlock a further £38 billion in public and private investment in affordable housing.
Today’s announcements follow proposals launched earlier this month to tackle the housing shortage in urban areas by enabling commercial premises to be converted into new homes through a fast-track planning permission process. This will help to give high streets a new lease of life, removing eyesores and transforming unused and derelict buildings, while making the most of brownfield land.