Headlines: September 17th, 2007

A government pledge of an extra 500 million pounds to local authorities that take steps to increase housing provision, including finding land for new homes, risks rewarding those councils that play a crude numbers game, according to the Local Government Association. The LGA believes the announcement ignores the needs of many authorities.

The Housing and Planning Minister, Yvette Cooper, gave details of a package of proposals to accelerate the building of homes for families and first-time buyers as well as ensuring new homes are greener. The focus will remain on developing brownfield land. There will be a series of incentives through the new Housing and Planning Delivery Grant to reward councils that speed up housing supply delivery and maximise the supply of building land in their areas.

Local Government Association chairman, Sir Simon Milton, said the money was a significant injection of cash that would help councils to identify where new homes would go. Councils, he said, wanted to work with the government to build the new homes the country needed, but he added, “It is disappointing that this announcement seems to be rewarding councils for playing a crude numbers game and ignores the needs of the majority of councils with housing challenges.”

One key issue, Sir Simon said, was where the money would go as there would be many areas it would not cover but which could be as pressing as housing need. “What is also now necessary is funding for the roads, schools and hospitals needed to turn desolate dormitories into places where people can live and work,” he added. He also urged the Government to recognise that there were large areas of land that were being sat on by developers even though planning permission had already been granted. “If businesses could be encouraged to start building, rather than sitting on brownfield land, then many more affordable homes could be built,” he said.