Sunday, 29 March 2015

Storm clouds gather over housing schemes

House builders and planners across the UK have launched desperate bids to save vital regeneration schemes from being washed away in a flood of government cuts.

Leaders of the ten housing market renewal pathfinders, which face cuts of 20 per cent from their budgets, have held individual crisis talks with government officials this week.

Brendan Nevin, visiting professor at the University of Manchester, said they have argued the £50 million cut will make it impossible to fund planned compulsory purchase orders and lead to local job losses.

Slashing promised regeneration could ‘damage relationships bet-ween government and communities for more than a decade’, he added.
Developer Berkeley has seen funding frozen on 12 projects, as part of a freeze on the £214 million kickstart budget ahead of the June 22 emergency budget. This includes funding for the 449-home first phase of the regeneration of the high-profile Ferrier estate in Greenwich.

John Anderson, chair of Berkeley, said it will argue that because all of its schemes are ‘in an advanced stage’ funding should be agreed.
The four planned eco-towns also found out this week that they may no longer count on financial support from the government.

The Communities and Local Government department said this week that ‘no decisions’ had been made on whether the eco-town developments approved by the Labour government would receive the same level of funding as promised.

Regional housing boards have won a three-month reprieve after sustained lobbying saw the government agree to extend their funding to the end of September.

The Planning Officers Society said that a more rapid end to funding for the regional housing and planning boards might not allow the boards enough time or cash to settle bills and handle staff redundancies.

A spokesperson for the East Midlands Leaders Board said it stood to lose £1.88 million which the government gives it for handling the region’s housing strategy. ‘It will mean probably some redundancies being negotiated.’

Meanwhile South Oxfordshire district council cancelled a meeting on its core strategy, locations for thousands of new homes for 20 years, until the government provided more clarity on the new planning system.

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