Much-needed new homes part of levelling-up measures

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has set out new measures to level up England’s cities, recover from the pandemic and help provide much-needed new homes.

Following a consultation launched in the summer that sought views from planners, councils and the wider public, the government has announced its plan for enabling the delivery of more homes across England. As part of this, an updated housing need formula will be introduced to help councils to enable the delivery of 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 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 has also said that it intends to revise the so-called ‘80/20 rule’ which guides how much funding 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.

As part of the announcement, the Housing Secretary has confirmed that more than £67 million in funding is being allocated to the West Midlands and Greater Manchester Mayoral Combined Authorities to help them deliver new homes on brownfield land, as well as confirming an additional £100 million of funding for brownfield development.

Furthermore, in January the government plans to launch a new £100 million Brownfield Land Release fund to support brownfield development, estates regeneration, development on public sector land and self and custom-build serviced plots in coming forward. This will be open to councils across England/

Jenrick said: “This government wants to build more homes as a matter of social justice, for intergenerational fairness and to create jobs for working people. We are reforming our planning system to ensure it is simpler and more certain without compromising standards of design, quality and environmental protection.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated and magnified patterns that already existed, creating a generational opportunity for the repurposing of offices and retail as housing and for urban renewal. We want this to be an opportunity for a new trajectory for our major cities – one which helps to forge a new country beyond Covid - which is more beautiful, healthier, more prosperous, more neighbourly and where more people have the security and dignity of a home of their own.

“A new expert Urban Centre Recovery Task Force has been set up to advise on the development and regeneration of our great town and city centres. The Task Force includes Peter Freeman, the visionary behind the redevelopment of Kings’ Cross and new Chair of Homes England.”