Headlines: January 11th, 2008

More details have been announced of the areas for which the new Homes and Communities Agency will be responsible when it comes into operation in April next year. It is being established to play a leading part in delivering the three million new homes which the Prime Minister has promised will be created by 2020. As well as bringing together responsibility for land and for money to deliver the homes, it will work with local councils on some of England’s 10 new eco towns.

The idea is that the Agency will act as a strategic partner to work with local government on housing and regeneration delivery in their areas. Given that, the Housing Minister, Yvette Cooper, has announced it will take responsibility for regeneration programmes from English Partnerships and the provision of new affordable housing from the Housing Corporation.

It will also be given operational responsibility for the delivery of large-scale housing and regeneration projects, including the areas of major housing growth such as Milton Keynes, Ashford, Stansted Cambridge and Peterborough and the Thames Gateway regeneration project. The Government will retain responsibility for strategic and cross-Whitehall issues on these projects.

The Agency will also take responsibility for delivery of social sector decent homes, including Arms Length Management Organisations, Large Scale Voluntary Transfers, Housing Private Finance Initiatives for new supply, mixed communities, capital investment on homelessness, hostels and specialist supported housing, as well as running the National Land-Use Database of Previously Developed Land and the Academy for Sustainable Communities.

Yvette Cooper said it would be crucial in delivering new homes and community infrastructure, bringing together not just land and money but also the skills to build more homes and regenerate communities. “This important new agency will be able to work closely with local councils to support them in their wide range of housing, regeneration and community work,” she added.