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HCA pumps £635m into stalled housing

Architects have welcomed the new ‘cash bail-out’ funding package on offer from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) to kickstart mothballed housing projects

Developers and local authorities can now bid for two elements of a £635 million housing rescue pot announced in April’s Budget.

Almost two-thirds of the package, £400 million, has been pumped into the Kickstart Housing Delivery Programme to unlock sites that have stalled – but only where development can proceed immediately. Under the programme, the HCA will contribute to infrastructure or development costs for high-quality housing projects that provide a mix of tenures. The scheme is expected to produce up to 9,000 new homes.

Announcing the package, Bob Kerslake, chief executive of the HCA, said: ‘This funding is in addition to our existing national affordable housing programme and will be an important transfusion into schemes that have the potential to be brought back to life.

‘We will be very selective. Criteria relating to build quality, speed of delivery and meeting local needs will be crucial in attracting funding.’

Ian McIntosh, director of Rolfe Judd, has been impressed by the speed of the HCA’s action. He said: ‘That the HCA is acting quickly to unlock sites providing mixed-tenure homes is partic­ularly good for developers and their architects, who have seen
so many projects cancelled in the past six months.’

McIntosh, whose Woodberry Down Estate redevelopment scheme (pictured), backed by the London Borough of Hackney and Berkeley Homes, will be one of the first projects to benefit from HCA funding, added: ‘The HCA initiative and the Kickstart Housing Delivery Programme will ensure that the public-private initiatives will continue to contribute to meeting national housing targets.’

Hal Currey, director of archi­tecture practice Flacq, agreed. He said: ‘Anything that can be done to unlock moribund housing schemes is welcome – and the HCA does appear to be moving at a reasonable pace.’ But he added: ‘A medium-term strategy to attract investor interest must follow to aid recovery.’

Bids for Kickstart cash must be received before June 2009 and developers must prove they can start on site before April 2010.

Meanwhile, local authorities can also bid for a slice of £100 million of extra funding to build new council homes. The money is split into a £50 million social housing grant and £50 million capital cover for ‘prudential borrowing’.

Homes built under the scheme will be eligible for exclusion from the Housing Revenue Account subsidy system, subject to individual agreements between the Secretary of State and each local authority.

The funding, which will be available over two years, is expected to produce up to 900 new homes for social rent, built to high environmental standards.

 

The HOMES AND COMMUNITIES AGENCY’s  £635 million funding package

Developers must prove projects can start on site before April 2010 to receive cash bail-out

  • £400m to unlock stalled developments through the Kickstart Housing Delivery Programme to build high-quality, mixed-tenure housing developments;
  • £50 million to enable local authorities to deliver new council housing for social rent;
  • Up to £80 million to support the Mortgage Rescue Scheme;
  • £84 million to provide cavity wall insulation in the social housing sector;
  • £21 million for investment in innovative low-carbon domestic heating systems.

 

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