Nick Boles announces cash incentive for communities that accept new housing
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Communities that accept the building of new homes in their areas will be rewarded will cash, the planning minister, Nick Boles, has announced.
Neighbourhoods that create housing development plans and get the backing of local people in a referendum will be given 25% of the revenues from the Community Infrastructure Levy that arises from the development they choose to accept.
The cash incentive will be paid directly to parish and town councils who will be free to spend it on community projects.
The Government says that it now believes that it should persuade people that new housing developments are in everyone's interest.
Communities without a neighbourhood development plan but where a levy is still charged will get a capped 15% share of the levy revenue arising from any backed developments.
Likewise, communities go that along with new developments but which lack a parish or town council will see the incentive retained by the local planning authority, which will be free to spend it in accordance with the wishes of local people.
According to the Government, the country must increase the number of homes it builds to cope with a "severe housing shortage".
Nick Boles said: "We have a simple choice. We can decide to ignore the misery of young families forced to grow up in tiny flats with no outside space. We can pass by on the other side while working men and women in their twenties and thirties have to live with their parents or share bedrooms with friends. We can shrug our shoulders as home ownership reverts to what it was in the 19th century: a privilege, the exclusive preserve of people with large incomes or wealthy parents.
"Or we can accept that we are going to have to build on previously undeveloped land and resolve that we will make these decisions locally and build beautiful places like we used to.
"This government is determined to persuade communities to accept more house-building by giving them a tangible share of the benefits it brings. By undertaking a neighbourhood plan that makes space for new development, communities can secure revenues to make the community more attractive for everyone."
Responding to the announcement, Rachel Fisher, the National Housing Federation's Head of Homes and Land, said: "Nick Boles is right that if people want their children and grandchildren to have an affordable place to live, we need to be bold in order to build homes where they're needed - which sometimes means building on previously undeveloped land.
"With around 240,000 new households forming every year, we are building only about half the number of new homes we need each year. We desperately need to build significantly more new homes now.
"New developments should take into account the needs of local people, so we welcome the commitment to giving 25% of community infrastructure levy (CIL) money to neighbourhood groups. But it’s crucial that this does not come at the cost of delivering affordable homes
"Housing associations will continue to work with local authorities to deliver the right homes in the right places for everyone in the community."
Meanwhile, John Hoad, Head of Planning at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: "We welcome this new power for local councils and the link to sensible planning for growth through a neighbourhood plan. Our experience of working on neighbourhood plans with the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) suggests that they have great potential to steer appropriate new development to the best locations, especially in small rural communities.
"This new incentive must not, however, be used to 'buy off' legitimate objections to new development. CIL is meant to be a mechanism for funding essential infrastructure. It should not be seen as a way of persuading communities to agree contentious developments."
Chartered Institute of Housing chief executive, Grainia Long, commented that she was pleased that Nick Boles had acknowledged that the lack of affordable housing is the biggest threat to social justice in the UK.
She said: "We know that we need to build 240,000 new homes a year and at the moment we are falling well short of that target. Unless we can deliver significantly more new homes and regenerate empty ones then we won’t be able to house the five million additional households likely to be created within the next two decades.
"It is simply not good enough that we are building too few homes to house our population – the time for action is now. We believe the commitment to give 25 per cent of Community Infrastructure Levy money to neighbourhood groups is a positive development, as any new housing should always consider the existing community.
"As well as building the new homes that we desperately need, it is also vital that we make the most of our existing stock and strive to bring more empty homes back into use."
Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, said: "The Government has made the housing crisis more acute by cutting funding for social housing by more than £4 billion, abolishing home building targets and creating uncertainly for housing associations and local authorities. What it could and should be doing is making capital funding available to housing associations and local authorities, so more homes can be built as a matter of urgency.
"The Government should also challenge private developers who are stockpiling land in the hope of making more money in the future."
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