The Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities have today revealed their progressive strategy for housing across England. The ambitious scheme aims to stimulate regeneration and densification of inner cities, and enhance housing delivery nationwide. The endeavour is focused on providing beautiful, secure, and decent homes in localities with high growth prospects, all in collaboration with local communities.
Rishi Sunak and Michael Gove are reinforcing efforts already in motion to fulfil their pledge in the Levelling Up White Paper, which seeks to revitalise 20 towns and cities. This time, the Levelling Up Secretary has proclaimed the rejuvenation of three additional English cities: Cambridge, central London and central Leeds.
This builds upon the ongoing work to balance the urbanisation of towns and cities across the country, including Sheffield and Wolverhampton. The Levelling Up Secretary has also highlighted plans to persist in close cooperation with local partners in Barrow, aiming to transform it into a new northern powerhouse.
In order to accelerate the urban regeneration, £800 million will be allocated from the £1.5 billion Brownfield, Infrastructure and Land fund today. The plan is to unlock the potential for up to 56,000 new homes on brownfield sites, using an infrastructure-first approach. The government is additionally funding Homes England with £550 million, which, when combined with income generated, will amount to an investment of £1 billion. It will also be granting landmark investments of £150 million and £100 million to Greater Manchester and the West Midlands respectively.
Furthermore, the planning system will undergo additional reforms to expedite new developments and provide local communities with the power to construct their own homes. To this effect, a new fund of £24 million will be introduced to bolster local planning capacity, and an additional £13.5 million will be spent to establish a new team of experts supporting large scale development projects.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) applauded the announcement from the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) concerning the long-term plans for housing.
Senior Public Affairs Officer at RICS, Sam Rees, stated, “RICS welcomes the UK Government’s announcement on boosting the supply of homes, which is essential to creating a vibrant and affordable housing market. Plans to cut red tape to encourage extensions and conversions won’t deliver a significant increase in new homes at scale, but it can help to repurpose high streets and bring shops and offices back into use.”
Gary Strong, Global Building Standards Director at RICS, expressed satisfaction that the UK government has considered recommendations on fire safety, particularly the legislation on secondary staircases in new residential buildings over 18m, which has been a concern for the last six years.
The CPRE countryside charity Chief Executive, Roger Mortlock, voiced his approval of the government’s housing plans, stating that the indications of a shift towards a genuine brownfield first planning policy were promising. However, he also expressed concerns over the large-scale development around Cambridge and its potential detrimental impact on the environment.
Oli Sherlock, Director of Insurance, Goodlord, said “If we want to ease the pressure on the rental sector, we desperately need more homes to be built. However, we need targets and pledges to translate into bricks and mortar. We’ve neglected our housing market for far too long – now is the time for pragmatic action, not more talk.”