Last week the UK Government announced a consultation to overhaul the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). During Theresa May’s speech, announcing these changes, she referenced the success of several new initiatives including the £5 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF), which made its first funding awards of at the start of February. The HIF is a grant available to local councils in England to unlock areas for development and enable schemes to be built quicker by providing funding for key infrastructure. This funding has come directly from the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and aims to support the delivery of infrastructure needed to build up to 200,000 new homes. This blog looks at the HIF supported schemes across the South West.
Transport Infrastructure is key
Of this funding, around £141 million has been awarded to 27 projects across the South West to support the delivery of approximately 50,000 new homes in the region. The funding has been allocated to support infrastructure projects such as road, bridges and land remediation/assembly to make housing developments viable and to allow homes to be built quicker. Interestingly, within the South West, 20 of the 27 projects which received funding through the HIF were awarded the investment to improve the local road infrastructure. Indeed, the improvement of the road network was the most common type of infrastructure to be funded by the HIF, thus highlighting the need for further investment in the UK’s transport network in order to unlock land to develop much needed new homes. Further funding in the region has been allocated to develop and improve infrastructure including the public realm, health facilities, school facilities as well as support the delivery of utilities such as electricity and land assembly.
Good news for Bath
In the South West, the highest amount of funding awarded was £12.5 million for the Riverside development in Bath. Bath and North East Somerset Council worked with the developer of the site, Crest Nicholson, to secure this funding to support the ambitious development in Bath’s Enterprise Zone. The funding will be used to deliver land assembly for infrastructure and to support the building of around 900 homes, a new school and other community assets.
The news that projects across the South West from Cornwall to Tewkesbury secured funding was welcomed by leaders across the political spectrum, including the Mayor for the West of England, Tim Bowles, Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, Leader of Bath and North East Somerset Council, Councillor Tim Warren and the Leader of North Devon Council, Councillor Des Brailey.
Welcoming the funding awarded for the Riverside development Councillor Tim Warren was quoted: “This announcement is great news for Bath, and represents one of the biggest investments in the country…this will secure the early delivery of more essential infrastructure including the new primary school on the site that is such a key part in strengthening this new community.”
Mayor Tim Bowles was also quoted as saying that his priority is “to deliver more homes for our residents, particularly affordable homes, and so (this) announcement is welcome”, adding that the funds awarded through the HIF was “a significant investment in our region.”
Part of a wider plan to stimulate housebuilding
The UK Government’s recent announcement of a consultation on changes to the NPPF aims to radically stimulate housebuilding and included plans for councils to lose their planning powers if they fail to meet new housing targets as well as revoking planning permission granted to developers if they don’t build homes quick enough. The UK Government’s previously announced investment through the Housing Infrastructure Fund was supported by further house building investment announced in February. The government’s Land Release Fund will provide over £20 million to support an additional 30 projects across the region by providing investment to combat barriers that would have previously made the land unusable for development. Additionally, 7 local authorities in the South West have received funding through the Planning Delivery Fund to fund innovation in the planning process and create extra capacity for joint planning initiatives.
Through the Housing Infrastructure Fund, Land Release Fund and Planning Delivery Fund it is evident that central government is showing a real commitment to supporting the delivery of much needed new homes in the region. By providing funding to developers and local councils to overcome some of the key barriers for development, including funding infrastructure that will help to unlock many stalled housing developments, especially where Section 106 requirements have proved prohibitive for developers. The latest round of funding announcements therefore demonstrates that the government is backing up its rhetoric on housing delivery with significant funding, and is seeking to work with developers and local government to meet housebuilding targets by unlocking difficult sites, working innovatively and delivering the vital improvements to road networks, community assets and wider infrastructure which are important to not only the new communities in which they are built, but existing residents as well.
Get in touch
At becg we have an award-winning team of communications professionals, specialising in engagement with the institutions of government at the local, regional and national levels. Our South West team has worked extensively across the region and offers a broad range of experience and knowledge across the built environment. Should you wish to know more about the Housing Infrastructure Fund, Land Release Fund or Planning Delivery Fund or similar opportunities to these, then please get in touch with our West & Wales office via firstname.lastname@example.org or 0117 247 0151.