Government fund set to unlock council land

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has announced details of how its £45m of investment for “unlocking council owned land for building homes” will be spent.

Housing Minister Dominic Raab announced that 79 projects across the country will receive a share of the Land Release Fund, which could aid the construction of up to 7,820 new homes, according to the Ministry. Aiming to support councils’ ambitions of unlocking enough land to build at least 160,000 homes by 2020, councils will be able to use the fund to “combat barriers which would otherwise make land unusable for development,” the Ministry commented. Some of the common barriers that the fund is intended to alleviate include the need for asbestos removal and even bat control, as well as providing for vital infrastructure projects. Raab commented: “It’s part of our strategy to build the homes Britain needs, and carry local communities with us. “We’re determined to make buying or renting more affordable for young families and those on low or middle incomes.”


• Poulton-Le-Fylde, Lancashire, to build new roads, roundabouts, and utility services, which will deliver up to 330 homes, potentially built with Japanese modular housing techniques. The works will cost £1.7m

• Worcester to demolish a leisure centre and undergo asbestos decontamination works near its city centre, helping to “unlock” up to 50 homes. The project will cost £750,000

• Paignton, Devon, to build a new 350 metre sewer, drainage upgrades and two new roads, which will help provide up to 200 homes. The works will cost £1.9m

• Brighton, Sussex, to divert a public sewer and make electricity substation and highways improvements. The £335,000 project will help deliver up to 30 homes

BRE releases offsite manufacturing standard

A new standard to assure the quality and performance of modular buildings has been announced by the Building Research Establishment (BRE).

Modular construction is thought to repre- sent 12 per cent of the construction market (£1.5bn market value) in the UK, with Berkeley Homes, Pocket Living, Legal & General, and Laing O’Rourke, some of the large scale housebuilders, committing to offsite build methods.


Khan launches ‘Small Sites, Small Builders’ programme

A new programme to bring forward publicly owned sites and boost the capital’s small housebuilders has been launched by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. Through his ‘Small Sites, Small Builders’ programme, Khan hopes to make small plots of council land more accessible to London’s small and medium-sized builders. To pilot the new approach, Transport for London (TfL) is to bring forward 10 of its small sites for development, with capacity ranging from between two and 42 homes. The land will be made more accessible through a “simple bidding process” with standardised legal contracts, and two of the sites will be dedicated specifically to community-led housing groups. Land at Cable Street, near Shadwell DLR station in Tower Hamlets, and a site at Christchurch Road in Lambeth, will both be earmarked for community-led projects, and will deliver 100 per cent affordable housing.

The initial 10 plots of land will deliver 111 new homes, of which 68 per cent will be affordable.

Discussions have begun with other public sector landowners about using their small sites for housing too, and a review of the TfL pilot sites will be carried out to determine how the programme can be used by other public land owners.

The new standard hopes to rid buyers of what BRE called a “prefab perception” of negative connotations. The BRE said: “It is important for quality and performance needs to cover structural and durability matters, as well as issues around acoustics, access to daylight and vibration, all of which the BRE Product Standard addresses.”

The standard (BPS 7014) covers all building types, including residential commercial, healthcare facilities, schools and prisons to certify the assets. It is intended to provide guidance to stakeholders including product manufactur- ers, developers, planners, mortgage lenders, insurers and underwriters, as well as the general public.

First wave of Planning Delivery Fund released

New funding to help speed up planning decisions has been announced by Housing Minister Dominic Raab.

The first wave of the Planning Delivery

Fund, totalling £15.8m, has been awarded to enable councils to process more applications, implement new reforms, and also train planners. Split into three streams, the first wave includes The Joint Working Fund (£9.4m), Design Quality Fund (£4.82m) and Promoting Innovation Fund (£1.07m). A total of 68 projects from Gateshead to Cornwall will receive funding from across all three streams, from 2017 until 2019. Raab explained: “This cash boost ensures councils have the resources needed to make quicker decisions on planning applications, delivering quality housing at a fast rate.”

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