Councils pour cold water on chancellor's social housing borrowing cap plan

Reports that councils have said that 'only a large-scale public housing programme' will achieve the government's new target of building 300,000 new homes a year feature in today's newspaper round-up.

The Financial Times (subscription required) reports that, under measures announced in the Budget, local councils will be able to bid only for an increase in borrowing caps to raise money for building more social homes "up to a total of £1 billion by 2021-22". But the newspaper says that the "Local Government Association (LGA), which represents almost 400 local authorities, has said it wants borrowing caps on council housing budgets abolished, and that £1 billion extra will not allow for much extra building". The newspaper quotes an LGA spokesman saying: "Rather than try to manage council borrowing from a desk in Whitehall, the government should simply scrap the cap and enable all councils to spark the renaissance in housebuilding that our communities desperately need".

The Times (subscription required) reports that water company Severn Trent "has committed to building 1,000 new homes in the next three years". The newspaper says that "many of the properties are to be built on land close to the company’s sewage treatment works in the Midlands, after a land audit identified 3,000 acres."

The Times (subscription required) also reports that a "project to build an £800 million undersea electricity connection between the Shetland Islands and the mainland has been scrapped". The newspaper says that, "under the plan, which was proposed by National Grid, Shetland and Aggreko, the temporary power provider, a 161-mile (260km) subsea link would for the first time have linked the islands and the main onshore power grid".

The FT’s architecture critic, Edwin Heathcote looks at the history of the brutalist Robin Hood Gardens estate in East London, which is due to be demolished. Heathcote writes that the elevated walkways of the estate "are not, perhaps, the lively community spaces envisaged by their architects. Yet neither are they the crime-ravaged, graffiti-spattered labyrinths of urban myth."

Guardian columnist Gaby Hinsliff looks at the future of small towns. She writes: "Small towns occupy a powerful place in British hearts and imaginations, and they have a right to survive. All they need now is a reason to exist."


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