The intervention will accelerate building on 2 large sites in East Devon and near Milton Keynes; unlocking development and bringing forward construction to 2013.
A £20 million injection of funding for the new town of Cranbrook, near Exeter, will enable local partners to bring forward the delivery of new homes included in the local plan, and create 1,500 jobs in the town that will include 6,300 homes and a new rail station with links to London and Exeter.
The money will also unlock construction of a new high street and transport infrastructure needed to develop the town centre, as well as 2 new schools in the next phase of development.
During a visit to Cranbrook, the minister met local construction apprentices who would work on the scheme. He said the government’s investment would create jobs for young people and bring a powerful economic boost to the area, while giving the consortium behind the new town the confidence and resources to drive forward its completion.
Mr Prisk also revealed that the construction of 6,000 new homes on the Fairfield development in Milton Keynes will also be brought forward without the need for direct funding, following discussions with the developer behind the scheme.
This intervention builds on the deal made earlier this year for the Eastern Quarry development near Ebbsfleet in Kent, a site for over 22,000 homes, bringing total number of potential homes unlocked through these schemes to over 34,000.
Today the minister also pledged support for housing programmes near Wokingham, where £2.5 million will enable local partners to solve key transport issues in the town in order to unlock the potential for over 10,000 new homes.
Mr Prisk said the government is making strong progress to boost house building despite the difficult economic circumstances, and he was in discussions with other schemes across the country.
Housing Minister Mark Prisk said:
“This government is serious about building more homes. That’s why we have been looking carefully at how we can accelerate large, planned housing schemes that already have the support of local people, but need help to move forward in the current economic climate.
“So I’m delighted that today I can announce our intervention will unlock the delivery of 12,000 new homes, and create thousands of jobs for local people. In the months ahead I will be announcing support for similar schemes. That means more investment, more jobs for our young people and more affordable homes for families across the country.
“We have set aside considerable funding to assist large housing programmes like Cranbrook, and I would urge anyone with similar proposals to come forward and contact my department.”
East Devon District Council Leader Councillor Paul Diviani said:
“We have a unique opportunity here to create Cranbrook’s town centre as a shining exemplar of how all town centres can function!
“Currently the town centre is a blank canvas; we are not restricted by existing buildings or street formations. With support from central government our vision of a town centre that is vibrant, attractive, welcoming, the beating heart of the new community, can become a reality much sooner than previously expected.”
Today’s announcement is the first allocation of £225 million, earmarked by the Chancellor in last week’s Autumn Statement, for the delivery of 50,000 new homes in large, locally-supported housing programmes.
The funding programme for planned, large-scale sites, administered by the Homes and Communities Agency, will be targeted at schemes that could deliver real benefits to their communities, but are struggling to move forward because the current economic climate.
Alongside funding to unlock new construction, the schemes will receive a package of support, including help to facilitate close co-operation with the local council and community during planning and delivery.
Progress on public land
Mr Prisk said an expert review published today also demonstrates the government is taking the right steps to quickly release its previously-used, surplus land for building new homes.
Many of the recommendations in the report, led by the chairman of Berkley Group, Tony Pidgley, are already shaping measures being taken forward by the government.
To date enough land has been sold to build up to 33,000 new homes, and last week’s Autumn Statement included a £290 million fund for the Home and Communities Agency to introduce measures that will quickly bring forward new sites for development, such as installing the right infrastructure so the land can be used for building new homes.
Tony Pidgley, chair of the Expert Advisory Panel said:
“This is a golden opportunity to deliver growth and great places. It’s surplus public land. It doesn’t need new legislation. All that’s required is a simple system to dispose of the land, alongside investment in infrastructure, and then the private sector can get on with building these much needed homes.”
Further reaction to the funding support for Cranbrook:
On behalf of the consortium partners - Hallam Land, Persimmon Homes and Taylor Wimpey - Mike Owen, project manager for Cranbrook, said:
“We were privileged to give Mark Prisk a tour of the development which gave him an insight into the brand new community being created. From the very start the development of Cranbrook has been about partnership and this announcement of funding support for phase 2 continues that process.
“Without this phase 2 Cranbrook would have been delayed at the end of phase 1. Instead, we have certainty in the delivery of phase 2, we can move ahead now and commit with confidence to the next key stages of the project and delivering further community infrastructure and bringing forward much needed private and affordable homes. The success of Cranbrook to-date has been underwritten by the amenities and infrastructure that we have been able to provide. In turn this has enabled the creation a real community from day one.”
Councillor Will Mumford, Chair of Exeter and Heart of Devon Growth Board and cabinet member for Economy, Enterprise and Employment, Devon Council said:
“I am delighted that Cranbrook has been recognised for its successful delivery and for the additional funding to enable us to bring phase 2 forward. This keeps the project momentum going, will secure additional jobs and investment and is a resounding vote of confidence in the partnership approach.”
Colin Molton, Homes and Communities Agency Executive Director for the South and South West, said:
“The government has shown its commitment to housing and development as a major route to driving economic growth and we welcome the confidence ministers have shown in our ability to deliver its key initiatives, supported by new investment.
“It’s welcome news also that Cranbrook is rightly identified as a vanguard project which will help drive economic growth in the south west, by providing the essential investment needed to deliver the second phase of the project. This is a huge opportunity, and I know that our partners will grasp it to maximise delivery of new homes and growth in Exeter and East Devon.”