Government has announced a new £25 million Planning Delivery Fund to support local authorities with the supply of new homes nationwide. The fund was launched by the Minister of State for Housing and Planning, Alok Sharma, with the finance aimed at councils involved in planning new communities.
£11 million of the fund will be initially opened up for bids for the 2017/18 and 2018/19 financial years. Local authorities can now apply to receive funding, to help gain the skills needed to deliver volume housing in their area.
Part of the Government’s plans to deliver 300,000 new homes per year by 2020, the fund will be segmented across three areas: joint partnerships, design quality, and innovation.
Successful bids are expected to be up to £250,000, for the joint working and design quality funds, with finances being distributed to successful bidders in 2018. But timing is important as decisions on funding are expected to be made by the end of January 2018.
Bidding councils need to submit an expression of interest, to include evidence that there is sufficient support and commitment within each planning authority, to meet local housing need and address strategic priorities across authority boundaries.
As well as financial support, The Planning Delivery Fund will provide authorities with design advice and support, in a bid to encourage innovation and quality of new housing developments. It is also hoped that the fund will boost joint partnerships across local authority boundaries, utilising skills and work forces to strategically plan for housing growth.
Sharma stated that he hoped the fund would inspire a change in the planning system, to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of current procedures, to enable the speedier delivery of homes.
Additionally, the Department for Communities and Local Government will recruit more staff to aid authorities with workload and expel the barriers that are “preventing plans and development schemes from moving forward”.
At the start of the year, the Housing White Paper revealed government’s goal of increasing national planning fees by 20%, to partially address the financial implications that planning departments face. The fund will fill the gap, ensuring local authorities have the appropriate resources to enable them to deliver their quota of homes.
Priority will be given to those authorities with the “highest housing need, where affordability is a major issue or where funding is necessary to overcome difficult planning issues”, the prospectus for joint partnership funding states.
Alok Sharma MP commented: “The Planning Delivery Fund will provide the most ambitious local planning authorities with the skills, capacity or capability they need to deliver high-quality housing growth at scale and implement our wider planning reforms.”
Government also recently announced a further £3 million of investment to support the delivery of its 14 garden villages, and the relaunch of the Community Housing Fund, with a £240 million boost to enable further community-led housing developments across the country.
Words: Jen Grimble
This new fund is further evidence of Government commitment to tackling the housing crisis.
It would be great to see uptake of the fund to finance a cohesive approach to custom build that’s regional, with several authorities working as a hub. This could deliver innovation and cohesive policy to bring on new homes across local government boundaries, especially in areas with new Garden Towns or Villages.