As yesterday’s Budget set out ambitious plans to be build thousands more homes, an £8million pilot project in the Sheffield City Region (SCR) has begun to assess exciting ideas for new homes to get them underway by the end of this year.
The pilot, the SCR’s Housing Fund, closed last week with a high level of applications, many of them extremely innovative. The scheme was launched in September to prioritise schemes that can get underway quickly once approved.
It plugs the gap in current national housing investment programmes, helping to unlock development opportunities, and will deliver much-needed new homes across the city region.
The majority of other funds currently available to support house building are national funds, where competition between regions is extremely high.
By contrast, SCR’s Housing Fund is a regional fund; only available to support schemes in the nine local authority areas which make up the city region.
Sir Nigel Knowles, Chair of the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), the business arm of the SCR, pledged that many of the nationally needed homes would get built in the City Region.
He said: “The way to get things done is through the Sheffield City Region and our own Housing Fund has received an exceptionally high level of interest. Although this is going some way to helping us to meet our housing ambitions, it is good to hear Government say that it can and that it will do more to boost house building.”
Martin McKervey, a LEP Board member, added: “It’s very positive to see high levels of interest from the sector – it is clear that the City Region’s approach to supporting housing growth has been well received.
“We will be working hard to make funding decisions both quickly and robustly, enabling schemes to progress and deliver much needed housing growth in support of our economic ambitions.”
Colin Blackburn, Assistant Director for Housing, Infrastructure and Planning at the Sheffield City Region Executive Team, said: “Put simply, Sheffield City Region needs to build more homes. We’ve built almost 11,000 homes over three years and we are working with local authorities, housing associations and developers to seek to build 70,000 new homes by 2024.
“So, although we are building houses faster than any point in the last five years, and have managed to increase the rate of completion every year since 2012, we still need to do more to meet our ambitious housing target.
“The SCR Housing Fund is absolutely key to this.”
The SCR Housing Fund is overseen by local authority leaders and private sector businesspeople with a knowledge of housing development, and will take a robust approach to appraising proposals.
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