Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Larger incentive needed to overcome opposition to development, say councils

Homes bonus scheme ‘will fail’ in south east

Conservative MPs and council leaders in the south east have spoken out against the government’s flagship scheme to encourage home building.

Richard Harrington, Conservative MP for Watford, attacked the new homes bonus in a Westminster Hall debate this week. The scheme aims to reward councils that allow homes to be built with payments equal to the council tax income from each new home for six years after it is built.

Mr Harrington said he did not think the bonus scheme ‘will be a convincing enough reward’ to overcome local opposition to development. ‘The available development land [in his constituency] comprises many small sites for which NHB money would not make a sufficient difference to the community coffers to provide any incentive,’ he added.

His concerns were echoed by Stewart Jackson, Conservative MP for Peterborough. Both MPs, however, said they supported the scheme’s principle.

Until now the new homes bonus had been expected to be most effective in the south where demand for new homes is highest. But a group of 21 major south east authorities, many of them Conservative led, has written to the Communities and Local Government department to express ‘serious concerns’ about how the scheme will work in their areas.

‘It is not clear to us that the outlined approach provides enough of an incentive to communities for them to welcome development. We also believe that the NHB will be more effective if it represents additional funding over and above existing sources of revenue,’ the letter said.

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