In a momentous move, the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities announced today a comprehensive housing plan, championing a new era of regeneration, inner-city densification and housing supply throughout England. These transformational plans emphasise providing aesthetically pleasing, secure, and quality homes in areas with high growth potential, involving local communities at every step.
Extending the commitments outlined in the Levelling Up White Paper, the initiative includes the regeneration and revitalisation of Cambridge, central London and central Leeds. This commitment builds upon efforts to level up cities nationwide, including Sheffield and Wolverhampton. The Secretary has also detailed further collaboration with local partners to turn Barrow into a Northern powerhouse.
A significant allocation of £800 million from the £1.5 billion Brownfield, Infrastructure and Land fund will be made today. This funding will pave the way for up to 56,000 new homes on brownfield sites, supporting an ‘infrastructure first’ approach to urban development. The fund allocation includes £550 million for Homes England, translating into a total investment of £1 billion with the income generated. Landmark investments of £150 million and £100 million will be directed to Greater Manchester and the West Midlands respectively.
The plan also includes speeding up new developments and empowering local communities to build their own homes by making key reforms to the planning system. An additional fund of £24 million will be launched to expand local planning capacity. Moreover, a new “super-squad” of experts, supported by an additional £13.5 million, will assist large scale development projects.
The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) responded favourably to the housing plan. Sam Rees, Senior Public Affairs Officer at RICS, lauded the government’s efforts to boost the housing supply. However, he noted that the proposed figure is lower than the government’s original annual target of 300,000 new builds. RICS also underscored the importance of maintaining quality, safety, and sustainability in the midst of planning reforms.
Gary Strong, Global Building Standards Director at RICS, commended the government’s attention to fire safety measures and called for quick implementation of the Cladding Safety Scheme.
Meanwhile, Roger Mortlock, chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity, appreciated the government’s commitment to brownfield-first planning policy and regeneration of town and city centres. However, he highlighted the need for greater attention to larger towns and cities in the Midlands and the north. Mortlock also cautioned against large scale development around Cambridge due to potential environmental impact.