What you need to know about the new planning funds

The government is seeking to increase the UK housing stock by 300,000 per year by the middle of the next decade. Planning details the new and extended funds proposed by the Treasury to help meet this goal.

Development funds: investments have been made available to meet the target of 300,000 new homes per year
Development funds: investments have been made available to meet the target of 300,000 new homes per year

Last year more than 217,000 homes were added to the UK’s housing stock. The government wants to see this figure rise to 300,000 a year by the mid 2020s. Supporting the government’s ambition, chancellor Philip Hammond announced several new or extended funding streams in, and shortly after, the November Budget.

Planning Delivery Fund

Total value and phasing: £25 million. The government has initially released £11 million of the fund to be split evenly between the 2017/18 and 2018/19 financial years.

What is it for? To provide planning and design support for councils in areas of high housing need.

Who is eligible to apply for it? English local planning authorities, including development corporations, areas with elected mayors and combined authorities. Applications can be made by organisations individually or working in partnership where the grant would support joint working. Additionally, third sector organisations can apply to the innovation stream of the fund, on their own or in partnership with local authorities, to seek support for innovation in processes, data and digital tools.

How can it be accessed? It will be administered by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). It comprises three funding streams: a joint working fund, a design quality fund and an innovation fund. The DCLG says it expects grants under the joint working fund and design quality funds to be up to £250,000 each for expenditure in 2017/18. The deadline for expressions of interest is 11 January 2018.

Will it help? Head of the Local Government Association’s Planning Advisory Service Anna Rose said: "The timescales are very, very short, with expressions of interest needing to be done over Christmas. A lot of the partners that councils need to talk to will have Christmas breaks, so unless they have something already worked up, they may find it difficult to apply."

Housing Infrastructure Fund

Total value and phasing: Total value and phasing: £5 billion for England, of which the £2.7 billion announced in the Budget is in addition to £2.3 billion announced last June. The overall UK pot will be phased as follows: £60 million for 2017/18, £300 million for 2018/19, £1,160 million for 2019/20, £2,135 million for 2020/21, £1,060 million for 2021/22 and £1,185 million for 2022/23.

What is it for? The fund aims to unlock 100,000 new homes by paying for infrastructure such as roads, energy networks, schools, healthcare and digital infrastructure. The fund is split into two parts: a marginal viability fund to provide the final piece of infrastructure funding to get additional sites allocated or existing sites unblocked quickly, with individual bids capped at £10 million. A forward fund is intended to allow the government to support a small number of strategic and high-impact infrastructure projects, with bids for up to £250 million allowed. This element is intended to provide initial funding to give the market confidence to invest further and make more land available for housing. After its launch in July, the DCLG tweeted that the fund is intended "to both support the delivery of infrastructure in existing up-to-date plans and to help local planning authorities get up-to-date plans in place". However, the fund prospectus does not specifically mention local plans.

Who is eligible to apply for it? Marginal viability fund: All single and lower-tier local authorities in England, including all unitary councils and London boroughs. Local authorities can submit joint bids, although these must identify a single local authority as the lead bidder. Forward fund: Upper-tier and all-purpose local authorities, comprising the Greater London Authority, combined authorities, county councils, unitary councils and metropolitan boroughs.

How can it be accessed? The fund is administered by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), soon to be renamed Homes England.

Land Assembly Fund

Total value and phasing: The total for the UK is £1,285 million, which includes £1,100 million for England. The overall UK pot will be phased as follows: £220 million in 2019/20 and £355 million for each of the following three financial years.

What is it for? In England, it is intended to enable the HCA to work alongside private developers to develop strategic sites, by assembling fragmented pieces of land into ready-to-go sites for housing development.

Who is eligible to apply for it? The DCLG will announce further details shortly, according to a spokesman.

Small sites fund

Total value and phasing: The total for the UK is £750 million, which includes £630 million to be spent in England. The overall UK pot will be phased as follows: £275 million in 2018/19, £355 million in 2019/20 and £120 million in 2020/21.

What is it for? Grants are to be used for remediation and infrastructure to accelerate the building of homes on small and stalled sites.

Who is eligible to apply for it? The DCLG will announce further details shortly, according to a spokesman.

Home Building Fund

Total value and phasing: The UK total is £1.78 billion, including £1.5 billion for England. The overall UK pot will be phased as follows: £365 million for 2018/19, £620 million for 2019/2020, £440 million for 2020/21, £235 million for 2021/22 and £120 million for 2022/23. Individual loans will be from £250,000 to £250 million, with smaller loans considered for innovative housing solutions. The money is additional to the £1 billion previously announced in autumn 2016.

What is it for? The fund will be used to provide loans specifically targeted at smaller businesses that cannot access the finance they need to build. The funding is split between development finance loans to meet the costs of building homes and infrastructure finance loans for site preparation and infrastructure.

Who is eligible to apply for it? Small builders, community builders, custom builders and regeneration specialists.

How can it be accessed? The fund is administered by the HCA. Finance is available to all private sector organisations involved in delivering new homes and the provision of enabled sites ready for residential-led schemes. The borrower must be a private sector entity that has majority control of the site.

Is it working? A spokesman for trade body the Home Builders Federation said it has been working with the HCA to iron out initial teething problems with the fund and that it is now more accessible, with signs that the money is starting to be put to use.

Estate regeneration

Total value and phasing: £400 million for England. The phasing for the total UK fund is: £60 million for 2018/19, £85 million for 2019/20, £95 million for 2020/21 and £120 million for 2021/22 and 2022/23. The funding is additional to £140 million set aside in December 2016.

What is it for? The funding is intended to be used to transform rundown neighbourhoods and provide new homes in high demand areas. It can be used to procure specialist commercial skills, such as external consultants, or to engage additional council staff to work in commercial roles.

Who is eligible to apply for it? Local authorities.

How can it be accessed? The fund is administered by the DCLG and HCA.


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