MHCLG announces fresh £374m infrastructure funding to unlock 32,000 homes

The government has awarded a combined £374 million from the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) to five councils to help unlock the delivery of up to 32,000 homes, with almost half going to projects in Medway, Kent.

Infrastructure funding: Hoo Peninsula, Kent. Pic: Hywel Williams,
Infrastructure funding: Hoo Peninsula, Kent. Pic: Hywel Williams,

Launched In July 2017, the £5.5 billion HIF aims to deliver infrastructure to ease the construction of new homes and forms a central plank in the government’s efforts to accelerate housing delivery.

The latest award will be invested in roads, schools, public transport and utilities, as well as country parks.

According to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, the five schemes in Swindon, Wiltshire, Cornwall, North Somerset and Medway are expected to unlock up to 32,000 homes.

It added that to date, the government has allocted more than £3 billion of funding to HIF projects.

Medway Council’s bid, dubbed "New Routes to Good Growth", won £170 million from the government.

The council said it would work with Network Rail to use the cash to upgrade rail infrastructure and improve connections to the Hoo Peninsula.

It said that £85.7 million of the money would also help improve roads. In addition, £14.35 million will be used to provide investment in country parks on the Hoo Peninsula.

Medway Council leader Alan Jarrett said: "The HIF bid will enable us to significantly improve transport links and it also gives us the opportunity of providing our residents with a choice of new homes on the Hoo Peninsula."

He said the funding would also allow the council to finalise its draft local plan covering the period up to 2035.

Elsewhere, North Somerset Council was awarded £97 million for a package of measures to open up development in the M5 / A38 development corridor.

A series of developments for the the area are proposed in the troubled West of England Joint Spatial Strategy.

According to the council, the funding will be used for transport and education infrastructure improvements to serve the "Weston Villages" - two emerging new settlements near Weston-Super-Mare - and to unlock potential housing sites near the village of Banwell "that will help meet the need for new homes in North Somerset over the next 15 years".

The proposals include a new road to bypass Banwell. Councillor James Tonkin, the council’s executive member for infrastructure, said the bypass would improve a "vital link between North Somerset and Bristol, which will have a hugely positive impact on residents’ access to jobs, and the area’s economy".

Wiltshire Council, meanwhile, has received £75.1 million to provide a new relief road to the east and south of Chippenham, along with improvement works at junction 17 of the M4.

The council said the work is expected to unlock development land to support up to 7,500 new homes and a million square feet of commercial space, being considered as part of the authority’s local plan review.

Council leader Philip Whitehead said: "The funding provides us with a welcome opportunity to have the right infrastructure in place before any additional development takes place in and around the town centre, which is exactly what residents have told us they want."

Another award from the HIF saw Swindon Borough Council awarded £18.9 million, which will build a connector road to serve its New Eastern Villages development.

The Department for Transport recently announced a separate £22.5m award to improve access to the proposed development.

Finally, Cornwall Council has been awarded HIF money totalling £12.9 million to improve road junctions at Hayle.

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick said: "This £374 million funding will ensure that communities have the right infrastructure to enable new homes to be built, such as road and transport improvements."

In August, the government approved £600 million of HIF allocations for five projects in London, Essex and Bedfordshire.

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