Infrastructure, Infrastructure, Infrastructure!

The Weekly Newgate Engage Planning Blog

By Drew Aspinwall
At the 1997 General Election, Tony Blair famously promised that a Labour Government’s three main priorities would be ‘Education, Education, Education’.

Flash forward 22 years, and today’s politicians could take a rhetorical leaf out of Blair’s book when it comes to the solution for housebuilding, ‘Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure’. 

Infrastructure funding is key to giving housebuilders the confidence to continue developing even in challenging financial times.

Take Cranbrook as an example, a brand-new community of currently around 2,000 homes in East Devon close to Exeter, and a scheme on which I worked for several years.

Set within a wider growth programme worth around £2bn, now with Enterprise Zone status, Cranbrook provided not only housing, but educational facilities, a new train station, new bus routes and other key enabling infrastructure, .

Cranbrook’s popularity with young families was fuelled by pent-up demand in the local housing market area, the provision of 40% affordable housing in Phase 1 but also that the new town was not just about building houses. 

The funding meant that the first primary school, St Martins, was under construction before the taps in the en suite of the first show homes were plumbed in. This infrastructure-led approach, funded predominantly by Homes England, drove house sales and interested in future phases of what is Devon’s first new town since the Middle Ages.

At the coming General Election, each political party is likely to try and outdo one another in the race to promise an increasing number of new homes every year. If the next Government stands any chance of meeting these targets, they will need to ensure that infrastructure provision sits at the heart of their plans. 

This week in Planning

  1. Westminster approves new City Plan – the council approved the new City Plan 2019-2040 on 13th November. The new plan has committed to delivering 1,495 new homes every year for ten years and over 22,000 new homes up to 2040. This is in addition to creating new business floor space for 63,000 new jobs and a clearer policy on tall buildings which rules them out across most of the city.
  1. Affordable homes stats – Statistics released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and the Greater London Authority (GLA) have shone new light on the availability and supply of affordable housing in the UK. The ONS figures, suggest that 60,000 new affordable homes were made available in 2017/18, up from 54,000 the year before. According to ONS figures the number of social homes as a proportion of new affordable homes delivered annually has decreased by 40% in the period from 2010-2018.
  1. London plan criticism – Planning inspectors have criticised the London Mayor’s housing targets, calling them “unrealistic.” The inspectors recommended that the new London Plan’s housing targets should be cut by 20 per cent ( equivalent to over 50,000 homes per year ) and called for a green belt review in the capital.
  1. Boost for new homes – Figures published by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) show that over 240,000 net additional dwellings were added to England’s housing stock in 2018/19. The number of new homes is the highest since records began in 1991-92, according to MHCLG figures.

Photo credit: Still Imaging

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