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Clegg: coalition will unblock stalled schemes to deliver 48,600 homes in 2013

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Clegg: coalition will unblock stalled schemes to deliver 48,600 homes in 2013

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Communities, Development

Nick Clegg Nick Clegg

Nick Clegg will announce that the coalition is to unblock a number of stalled housing developments, leading to the delivery of 48,500 homes in 2013.

The deputy prime minister will also pledge £225 million in government funding to assist where "investment is required".

Clegg, who will make the announcements in a speech before the National House-Building Council today, will reveal that the UK will grow by 2,300,000 households over the next ten years.

Clegg will say: "Last year we managed to complete 117,000 – just over half [the new homes needed]. The credit crunch has certainly exacerbated the problem – with mortgages and deposits harder to come by. But this housing crisis has been a long-time in the making: we’ve been under-building for decades."

The Lib Dem leader will argue that radical action is needed to prevent communities from withering and stop cities becoming ever more congested.

Clegg will acknowledge in his speech the effect that nimbys have on preventing new developments but will express sympathy with the concerns that people have about "environmental damage".

He will also claim that the Government could not find any developments of over 13,500 homes in the UK since the 1970s.

According to Clegg, the coalition is currently directly intervening to unblock a number of locally-led schemes, that range from 4,000 to 9,500 units in size.

Clegg will say: "The sites have been held up for various reasons: cash-flow problems following the banking crash; bureaucracy and licensing issues, a lack of upfront investment for infrastructure. Some for up to ten years. And while all of them have strong local supporters, their communities are, understandably, becoming frustrated by these delays.

"So we will unlock the barriers to investment. We will make sure that bureaucracy does not hold back these developments: bringing partners together to get action on the ground. And, where investment is required, I can announce new funding. We will provide £225m of government money which will also leverage private investment to effectively de-risk these or similar projects and get them moving.

"We will work with prospective developments and ensure that any public sector investment secures value for money from the taxpayer and once these developments are complete, the taxpayer will get that money back."

Clegg will also argue that the country needs to "go back to its roots" and take inspiration from the "great planners" of the 20th century.

"As the Victorian slums were cleared away, they drew up plans for modern, self-contained, green cities. Places which offered the dynamism and opportunity of urban living, but maintained the harmony and natural beauty of country life as well, where industrial hubs, green spaces and residential areas would be carefully connected by cutting edge transport and infrastructure – everything meticulously thought through. Garden cities: the town in the country; the best of both worlds."

Clegg believes it is time to "rediscover that proud tradition of creating new places".

"Stevenage, Peterborough, Milton Keynes – these places didn’t spring up of their own accord. People got together and made them happen: through imagination; ambition; leadership. Not every New Town was been perfectly designed – but the fact is, people like living in these places. More people now commute into Milton Keynes than out of it: it’s economically independent and still growing strong. It’s time to learn from the success stories and replicate them once more.

"We can rise to this challenges, but only if we see the opportunity too. This isn’t just about bricks and mortar, it’s about giving British families the homes they need, giving children new communities to grow up in, creating places that will grow and thrive and become part of the fabric of this great country. This is the moment to revive the ambition of those who came before us, in order to create a better future for those who will follow us."

Responding to the Deputy Prime Minister’s speech, Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) chief executive, Grainia Long said: “The Deputy Prime Minister is absolutely correct that we face a housing crisis and that we have failed to build the number of homes that we need for many years. He is right about the scale of ambition that will be necessary if we are to provide decent homes and real housing choices for today's younger households and for generations to come.

Grainia continued: “But it's not just about building anything and everything and the Deputy Prime Minister can rightly take inspiration from the Garden Cities movement in working to ensure that we build places where people want to live, with well designed, high quality homes and adequate green space. Well built homes with real people and real lives in mind are also much more likely to gain local support.”

"We need to address our housing crisis now and the government is right to focus on existing stalled schemes which can be brought on stream in the shorter term, where the £225m of new government funding to help de-risk projects is a welcome contribution. But the Deputy Prime Minister is also right that our housing crisis has been 30 years in the making and will need long term action to properly address it. Government needs a long term vision and a long term strategy and the Deputy Prime Minister’s speech is a welcome recognition of this - we look forward to seeing further details of large sites competition.”

John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said: “Building houses is one of the quickest ways to boost jobs and growth, and by focusing on stalled sites, the Government is rightly reaching for quick wins.

“The £225m being made available to leverage private investment should inject confidence into the sector by offering some welcome respite for house-builders struggling to fund major developments.

“However, house builders need the Government to deliver on its promises by urgently clarifying how this new funding will work alongside the £10bn of government guarantees, and by championing NewBuy to boost demand."

Catherine Harrington from the National CLT Network, which represents Community Land Trusts, said: “Garden cities are an excellent model for how we can deliver much-needed new homes that also create good quality, well-designed and sustainable places to live for local people.

“The first, Letchworth Garden City, was based on a community trust holding the land and assets for the benefit of the wider community. It now reinvests £3.5 million a year into the local community.

“The garden city movement gave birth to Community Land Trusts (CLTs) - community-based organisations that provide land, homes and assets to meet the needs of local people. Today, there are over 100 CLTs operating in England.

“If local people are to get behind these new large-scale developments they need to be given a real stake in shaping the development. CLTs are the perfect way for the Government to engage with England’s communities and put them at the heart of 21st century garden cities and suburbs.”

Tony Stacey, chair of the PlaceShapers Group, said: “We welcome the Government’s pledge to release this additional and significant funding to boost housebuilding. It is a positive step forward if the housing association sector is to work effectively, as this cash injection will kick-start local housing projects which have stalled. This is vital if the housing sector is to follow the principles of the localism agenda to meet housing need. This government believes in this, and so do we.

“Mr Clegg’s support for locally-led schemes, such as those PlaceShapers’ members are developing, echoes our long-term commitment to local neighbourhoods. The announcement of funding is not a green-light to build anything anywhere but it would be an opportunity to reinvigorate house building in communities where people want to live.

“This investment comes at a critical time for the sector. With the imminent Welfare Reform changes next year, direct payments of benefits to residents will have a significant impact on arrears and in turn reduce revenue streams to support new investments and developments.

"PlaceShapers would like to see tenants still have the choice of the housing benefit element of Universal Credit being paid direct to landlords to reduce this risk. This move will reduce the impact and cost on the Government by reducing the numbers of people that could potentially find themselves homeless if they default on their rent payments. It will also strengthen our business plans and ensure we can build even more new homes.”

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