Crunch sparks grant fears

The DCLG is being urged to review its system for rewarding planning teams due to the housing market slump.

Final payments for the housing and planning delivery grant for 2008-09 were set out this week, with £101 million shared by councils.

The grant rewards them for delivering extra homes over 0.75 per cent of stock and for plan-making. But almost half got nothing from the housing element because they failed to meet criteria.

Town and Country Planning Association chief executive Gideon Amos said: "There is a case to review the grant in the light of the credit crunch. The problem lies in tying support to housing completions." A Local Government Association spokesman agreed: "Given the state of construction, it is unfair to base awards on this."

The DCLG insisted that the grant is an extra incentive for councils. "If they are not delivering homes, they do not need the money," a spokesman said.

This year's payments were calculated on completions from 2003-04 to 2006-07. But there are fears that the crunch could make it harder for planning teams to win cash in the next two rounds.

Birmingham and Coventry City Councils have both lost out despite being growth points. A spokesman for Birmingham said regeneration areas are disadvantaged because the grant is based on net completions.

The London Borough of Barnet also secured nothing for housing. Cabinet member for planning Melvin Cohen said: "The grant does not reward places planning for growth. This significant allocation is divorced from the planning system it is intended to support."

However, some authorities have benefited hugely from the housing element including Manchester, which netted £1.7 million, the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and Swindon.

The final grant allocations are available at PlanningResource.co.uk/doc.


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