The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has today pledged to unblock Whitehall barriers to the construction of new garden towns in order to boost housebuilding.
Publishing a prospectus for local areas to apply for support to build new garden towns of more than 10,000 homes, as well as villages of at least 1,500 dwellings, housing secretary James Brokenshire said the plan was “about the government working with councils and developers to get great homes in keeping with beautiful areas in England”.
He added: “We want to help local authorities build strong and vibrant communities where people want to live, work, and raise families. Our garden communities programme already has the potential to provide over 200,000 new homes by 2050, and we want to go further.”
The prospectus is seeking applications from councils across England, and private developers who have secured support from local authorities will be able to apply for a place on the programme.
The winning bidders will receive tailored advice and potential grant funding for help with staffing or environmental assessments, while the department pledged to provide cross-government brokerage to tackle any central barriers to progress.
“The garden communities we commit to supporting will be a priority for delivery. We can play a key role across government to help overcome barriers to delivery and broker solutions to unblock issues that arise,” the document stated.
“We ask proposals to consider what additional government assistance would enable delivery. Where real ambition is demonstrated, government is always interested in hearing more about proposals for Housing Deals, particularly in areas of high demand.”
Applicants will be prioritised on the basis of “a strong prospect of early delivery and a significant acceleration of housing delivery”.
The ministry has also pledged to assist the schemes on the programme with help in forming the right governance and delivery arrangements for new communities. It stated that there are a number of possible options that these could take, from arrangements such as joint venture companies, to development corporations. The construction of the Ebbsfleet Garden City is being undertaken by a development corporation.
“We will work with successful proposals to help them work through the detail of the most appropriate delivery arrangements to ensure main partners can take key decisions effectively, and how private sector finance can best be utilised,” the ministry's prospectus stated.
“Whilst we are not prescribing any particular model, for proposals at scale, a development corporation may be an appropriate vehicle to consider. We have taken action to enable the creation of new locally accountable town development corporations. These vehicles can help provide long-term certainty to private investors, resolve complex co-ordination challenges, invest directly in infrastructure that unlocks development, and use compulsory purchase powers to help lay out a new town.”
The assistance to create new garden towns is the latest in a series of housing policy announcements by MHCLG. The ministry yesterday launched a social housing green paper intended to rebalance the relationship between residents and landlords, tackle stigma and ensure social housing supports people when they need it and promotes social mobility.
Earlier this week, MHCLG set out a new strategy to tackle rough sleeping with specific responsibilities for a host of ministries to tackle the problem.