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£22 million investment in Shropshire revealed in boost to homes and jobs pledge

Shropshire is benefiting from a £21.9 million investment in the region thanks to the Marches Local Enterprise Partnership.

The Marches LEP has promised to create thousands of new homes and jobs over the next 20 years, a pledge re-iterated at the launch of its annual report in Westminster.

It says it will also invest £7.7 million in the roll-out of superfast broadband to give 77,000 extra homes and businesses high speeds by the end of next year.

Projects in the pipeline include the Newport Innovation and Enterprise Package, bringing 1,070 houses and 954 jobs to the area and the Shrewsbury Flaxmill Maltings.

It also helped lever in money for improvements to the A5/A483 junctions on the Oswestry bypass to help the town’s house building schemes.

MPs were at the launch of the annual report along with senior Government officials and leading civil servants.

Chairman of Marches LEP, Graham Wynn, said the partnership had driven economic growth across the region over the last 12 months and had ambitious plans to build on its success over the next year.

“We are pinpointing the key areas which will help the region sustain and develop growth and drawing up a new, Local Industrial Strategy to underpin this plan,” he said.

The partnership has already helped attract £285m of Government, European, public and private sector funding to Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.

“In the past 12 months we have secured a fresh grown deal which will see £21.9 million invested in projects to boost the region’s skills,” Mr Wynn said.

“We want to ensure we create a culture of innovation and train our people in the skills needed to deliver on our promise to create thousands of new homes and jobs over the next 20 years.”

Marches LEP is calling on the government to support an integrated transport system. It is contributing £6 million to the Shrewsbury Integrated Transport Package, and supporting the Telford bus station scheme.

 “Transport connectivity is the ‘glue’ that binds our communities and the economy together,” Mr Wynn said.

North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson, one of those at the launch, said the partnership had gone to Westminster in force.

“I am pleased the plans include working with the Welsh Government to improve the A5/A483 corridor that crosses the Shropshire/Welsh border and to improve train services not only between Shropshire/Wales and the Midlands but also the Shropshire to London service.”

Source: Shropshire Star

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Government signs West Midlands deal to deliver 215,000 homes in 13 years

West Midlands authorities have agreed to deliver 215,000 homes by 2031, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced in the Spring Statement today.

Hammond said he’s currently working with 44 authorities who are bidding for the government’s £4.1bn housing infrastructure fund to unlock housing in areas of high demand.

He said: “We have just agreed a deal with the West Midlands who have committed to deliver 215,000 homes by 2031 facilitated by a £100m grant from the land remediation fund.

“The housing minister will make further announcements over the next few days on the hosing infrastructure fund.

“We will more than double the size of the housing growth partnership with Lloyds Banking Group to £220m, providing additional finance for small builders.”

London will also receive £1.7bn to deliver a further 26,000 affordable homes, including homes for social rent.

Hammond went on to say that 60,000 first-time buyers have benefited from the stamp duty cut he made in the Autumn Statement last November.

And he reaffirmed the government’s commitment to up housing supply by 300,000 a year by the mid-2020s.

Neil Knight, business development director at Spicerhaart Part Exchange & Assisted Move, welcomed the news.

He said: “It is very encouraging that the West Midlands is receiving such a substantial grant.

“Following the Spicerhaart group’s latest acquisition Staffordshire based estate agency business butters john bee, we have widened our coverage into the West Midlands so this announcement is very pertinent for us.

“We know the West Midlands is in desperate need of new housing and where usually, funding tends to be focussed on London and more recently, the North, it is encouraging to see a deal like this in the Midlands.”

Russell Quirk, founder and chief executive of Emoov, agreed.

But he reckoned the government isn’t doing enough to help the struggling market in London.

Quirk said: “Today’s additional announcement of 215,000 homes within the West Midlands region by 2031 will see an already strong area of the UK property market further accelerate where price growth is concerned.

“In contrast, London has been one of the worst hit in terms of a dwindling appetite for property amongst buyers.

“While the commitment of 26,000 affordable homes in the capital and a total of 116,000 affordable homes by 2022 would be a step in the right direction, the government delivered just under 7,000 affordable homes in 2017.

“So, there is quite a large gap between their good intentions and reality and this is simply not adequate enough to fix London’s broken housing market.”

Jonathan Sealey, chief executive of Hope Capital, was pleased by the move to increase the housing growth partnership with Lloyds.

He said:  “While the Spring Statement wasn’t earth shattering it was positive news that the Housing Growth Partnership for small housebuilders will be more than doubled to £220m.

“It is these smaller developers and housebuilders that often turn to bridging funding to get their developments off the ground.

“Any measure that increases positive sentiment amongst builders and developers and gets them building, not only increases the much needed housing supply but also helps to boost the economy.”

Paresh Raja, chief executive of bridging lender Market Financial Solutions, welcomed the move.

He said: “It is positive to see the government focusing on developing property markets outside of the capital – the West Midlands has led the way with house price growth of late, and helping meet demand will be important in this region.

“Ultimately, however, we will need to wait and see whether or not the government successfully hits its targets when it comes to building new homes, both here and across the UK as a whole.”

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Number of farming building conversions falls 20 percent in a year

The number of conversions of farm buildings into new homes dropped 20% in the last year, denting hopes that these conversions could help solve the rural housing crisis.

According to Lendy, one of Europe’s largest peer-to-peer lending platforms, only 1,511 agricultural-to-residential conversion applications were approved in 2016/17.

This figure is down from 1,890 in 2015/16. Lendy adds that local authorities rejected 38% of all applications for converting farm buildings to houses last year.

It says converting outbuildings such as barns and stables into housing can be an “effective” way of combating the UK’s housing shortage, which is being felt “just as badly” in the countryside as it is in cities.

For example, a recent development of eight new houses in rural Cornwall had over 800 people apply to rent, demonstrating the demand for more rural housing.

As well as making unused buildings available for new housing, selling surplus outbuildings to convert can provide farmers with a vital source of additional income, according to Lendy.

‘Bank lending’

Lendy adds that in addition to the fall in applications and high number of refusals, another issue for developers is that bank lending to property developers remains low.

It says many developers can “struggle” to finance conversion projects through traditional means.

Bank of England figures show that in December 2013, over £34 billion in lending was outstanding from banks to property developers, but this plunged to just £14.8 billion in December 2017.

As a result, more and more developers are turning to alternative forms of finance, such as peer-to-peer lenders, to build more homes.

Liam Brooke, Co-Founder of Lendy, says: “Converting farm buildings is one of the easiest ways to help solve the rural housing shortage, so this sharp drop-off in approvals is very disappointing.

“Agricultural-to-residential conversions can be a win-win for everyone –farmers can unlock capital from their land and more homes get built for prospective buyers – helping to close the housing gap.

“It doesn’t make sense to have so many redundant outbuildings that have no aesthetic value at all slowly decaying when they could be turned into homes.”

Source: Farming UK

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Plans to build 350 new homes move forward

Two sets of plans that could together bring about the construction of more than 350 new homes in the East Riding are set to move forward following positive decisions at the council’s latest planning committee meeting.

Plans from Persimmon Homes (Yorkshire) and Hull and EY Hospitals NHS Trust cover development off Castle Road in Cottingham. The reserved matters application covers siting, appearance and layout.

The scheme proposes the construction of 180 houses, with a mix of two-, three- and four-bedroom properties.

It also includes the creation of access roads, and the provision of parking, landscaping and public open space.

Outline planning permission for a wider scheme comprising 600 houses, care home, retail, healthcare facilities and sport pitches was granted in November 2013.

The latest plans went before East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s planning committee on 15 February. Councillors at the meeting voted to approve plans, subject to the completion of the Section 106 Agreement.

Also considered at the meeting were plans submitted by Spawforths, on behalf of the applicant, for a site to the west of Howden Parks.

The outline application proses the construction of 175 houses on a 22.1-acre site.

The site was originally proposed for housing in 1996 and formed part of the former Boothferry Borough Local Plan. It was also part of a hybrid application for 630 dwellings that was granted consent in 2014, but has now expired.

Councillors voted to defer a decision until an objection from the Environment Agency is withdrawn. Once this is received, the council’s director of planning and economic regeneration will be authorised to grant approval.

Source: Insider Media

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Space on brownfield land to build up to one million new homes

There is enough space on brownfield land to build at least a million new homes, research by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has found.

The analysis of Brownfield Land Registers reveals that over two thirds of these homes could be deliverable within five years, and many of these sites are in areas that have a high need for housing.

CPRE found that the 17,656 sites identified by local planning authorities, covering over 28,000 hectares of land, would provide enough land for at least 1,052,124 new homes, which it says could rise to over 1.1 million once all registers are published.

According to CPRE, this means that three of the next five years’ worth of government housing targets could be met through building on brownfield land that has already been identified.

This would ease pressure on councils being pushed to release greenfield land, and would mean that less of the UK’s countryside would be used for new builds.

London, the north west, and the south west were identified as having the highest number of potential deliverable homes, with the new registers giving minimum housing estimates of 267,859, 160,785 and 132,263 respectively.

The registers found sites for over 400,000 homes that have not yet come forward for planning permission, despite the “urgent need” to move sites towards development.

More than a third of these sites are on publicly owned land, and CPRE argues that as public authority developments should give a significant opportunity to provide affordable homes, it provides an opportunity for homes to be built on brownfield land to help towards local need.

Additionally, further analysis showed that there is brownfield capacity wherever there is threat to the green belt.

It found that in a number of areas with an extremely high number of green belt sites proposed for development, local authorities have identified enough brownfield land to fulfil up to 12 years of housing need.

Rebecca Pullinger, planning campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, called it “fantastic news” that authorities have identified so many brownfield sites that are ready to be developed.

She said: “Contrary to what the government, and other commentators have said, brownfield sites are also available in areas with high housing pressure.

“Indeed, our analysis is conservative with its estimates of potential number of homes that could be built – the figure could much higher if density is increased and if more registers looked at small sites.”

She called on the government to amend its guidance to ensure that councils have identified all of the brownfield sites in their areas, and to improve incentives to build on these sites and ensure that they follow through on their commitment for all new builds to be on brownfield first.

In order to make use of suitable brownfield land, CPRE has called on the government to use the upcoming review of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to introduce a “brownfield first” approach to land release and granting planning permissions for development.

It argues that local authorities must be empowered to refuse planning permission for greenfield sites where there are suitable brownfield alternatives.

Source: Public Sector Executive

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Former psychiatric hospital to be site of 891 new homes

ITS approach to care was then revolutionary, and an entire village complex was supported by a working farm, church, shop and bakery before the rural idyll for vulnerable people was left to became a crumbling folly.

Now the former Bangour Village psychiatric hospital site in West Lothian –the size of 100 football pitches and including 15 listed buildings – is set to be taken over by a housing developer after lying empty for 14 years.

NHS Lothian, has a planning application going through the system for 891 homes, 800 new build and 91 conversions, and a primary school.

It is the second attempt to lay foundations for new homes there after an earlier effort fell victim to the economic downturn.

Allanwater Homes, based in Bridge of Allan, would not comment on its plans for the site but confirmed it has lodged a bid with owner NHS Lothian and that dialogue was ongoing.

It comes after renewed efforts were made to sell the site last year.

NHS Lothian, advised by the Scottish Futures Trust, appointed property advisers CBRe and Justin Lamb Associates to revive interest ahead of a planning decision through West Lothian Council.

Justin Lamb said Bangour is “probably the best opportunity in Scotland to deliver a new village in a mature landscape.”

Source: Herald Scotland

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New Black Country housing estate could be built on derelict industrial land

The 13-acre site off Darkhouse Lane, near Rosewood Primary School, will be turned into a new housing estate.

Around 142 properties would be built comprising of 30 one bed flats, six two bed flats, 51 two bed houses, 45 three bed houses and 10 four bed houses.

Plans are set to be approved subject to a Section 106 agreement at a Dudley Council meeting next week.

Affordable housing

Planning documents state: “The site is predominantly brownfield, being occupied by vacant, derelict and dilapidated industrial buildings.

“The development would also include open space and ancillary works to provide a buffer to adjacent industrial/railway uses.

“The application is made on behalf of Accord housing association and it is proposed that the entire scheme would be for affordable housing.”

Dudley Council leader Patrick Harley said if the scheme went ahead it would be ‘a boost’ to the local area.

“I welcome any investment in the borough as the council has been through hard times in recent years. We need to create our own new revenue streams and we can do that by building more houses and collecting more business rates.

“If there is an opportunity for commercial properties that would be great, and homes are good as well. I think this will provide a boost to the local economy in Coseley.”

Anti-social behaviour

A design and planning statement submitted as part of the application states: “Despite the site being allocated as employment land it must be noted the site has remained vacant for some time now and is subject to anti-social behaviour problems during the evenings.

“It is understood Dudley Council have expressed a willingness to consider the site’s potential for residential development.

“The design of any proposed residential development must be orientated to address the site constraints highlighted.

“The railway line to the west and coal manufacturing plant to the north have been identified as major potential noise sources.

“And early noise assessments suggest a minimum 60-metre offset of built form from these boundaries.

“This will achieve a substantial amount of public open space that will benefit any residential development and also provides sufficient space for the incorporation of a sympathetic noise mitigation feature.”

A previous application in 2013, from Darkhouse Properties (Jersey) Ltd, for 108 properties, was approved, but no development took place.

Source: Express and Star

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Scotland ‘building more affordable homes than England’

Scotland is building more affordable homes per head of population than England despite predictions that Holyrood ministers will miss their own ambitious target for new housing.

The Scottish Government’s supply of affordable housing per capita was found to be 33 per cent higher than the UK government’s supply in England over a 10 year period from 2007.

In answer to a parliamentary question from Edinburgh North and Leith MSP Ben Macpherson, housing minister Kevin Stewart revealed that 70,861 affordable homes had been built from April 2007 to September 2017.

In 2016, Scottish ministers pledged £3 billion to build 50,000 affordable homes, 35,000 of which are destined for the social rented sector.

But the number of affordable homes completed per quarter since the middle of 2016 has averaged at just 1,808, well below the 2,673 needed to reach the 50,000 target by 2021.

The gap in completions for social rent is even wider, with an increase in the completion rate of 159 per cent needed to meet the target.

But Mr Macpherson said the per capita figure demonstrated Scotland’s “strong position” when it came to building new homes.

“This demonstrates the stark difference between the SNP and the Tories, who have let housebuilding drop to its lowest level in England since 1923, whilst cutting winter fuel payments for the elderly and lumping the Bedroom Tax on the vulnerable,” he said.

“Since coming to office, the SNP has built more than 70,000 affordable homes and will continue to increase affordable housing with our ambitious target to deliver 50,000 homes during the lifetime of this Parliament, backed by £3 billion of investment.

“Making sure everyone has a safe, warm and affordable home is central to the SNP Government’s drive for a fairer and more prosperous Scotland.”

Source: Scotsman

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Developers believe 19 parking spaces will be enough for 71 new flats in Tonbridge town centre

Plans to build 71 new flats with just 19 parking spaces in the centre of Tonbridge have been unveiled.

F Estates, which specialises in affordable rented property development, wants to extend the existing block at The Bank House on Medway Wharf Road.

But some residents have come out against the plans saying the “overcrowding” would “ruin” the riverside area with bedsits.

The five-storey building would incorporate 71 rented studio flats which, when added to the existing 64, would mean a total of 135 on site. The parking provision would increase from 52 to 71 spaces.

A similar scheme for 72 flats on the plot was thrown out by Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council in September on the grounds of overdevelopment.

But in a statement to the council, planning consultants Barton Willmore claimed previous concerns had been addressed.

It said: “The proposed development seeks to provide a high-quality living environment, extending the successful conversion of the existing Bank House building undertaken by the applicant.

“The proposals would provide much needed new homes – of a particular type and nature identified as being locally deficient – assisting with the council’s undersupply of five-year housing land supply.”

An artist’s impression of the rear of the site

The statement adds 40 per cent of the flats would be affordable homes let out at 80 per cent of market rate.


Despite the assurances, the plans are courting controversy locally with residents citing over-development, a lack of parking spaces and fears the building would block out neighbouring properties’ sunlight.

One objector, whose name has been redacted from planning documents but lives in nearby Cannons Wharf Road, said: “I am shocked and disappointed that the same company that wishes to build a 14-storey building down our road now wishes to double the size of an existing building and again not provide adequate parking. The additional traffic will burden a local infrastructure already under strain.

“It is unrealistic to assume that in this age of mass car ownership that the people who move into the proposed extension will either want or be able to rely on local bus services, so the question remain, where will these people park?”

Another, a serving police officer, feared the development could “ruin” life for existing residents, adding: “I object to this quite simply due to overcrowding. I work as a police officer in the Met and often see how disruptive a block of flats of this scale in an already busy area can be, often ruining many residents’ lives to the point they will move.”

Source: Kent Live

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Brighton & Hove’s Biggest New Council Housing Development In Years Completed

The first tenants will soon be moving into brand new homes in Whitehawk, following completion of the biggest new council housing development in the city in recent years.

Fifty-seven new homes have been built at Kite Place consisting of 10 one-bedroom, 33 two-bedroom and 14 three–bedroom flats.

Each of the properties has a balcony or patio, some with sea views, and they are designed to be energy efficient, with communal boilers providing hot water and heating.

Six of the homes are designed for wheelchair users and their families, with a number of mobility-rated units available for people needing accessible shower rooms. All the rest are built to the latest ‘accessible and adaptable’ standards, with lifts to all floors.

Kite Place is the largest development in the council’s New Homes for Neighbourhoods building programme, which aims to build at least 500 new homes on council land to provide much needed affordable rented housing. Building began in February 2016.

It’s situated off Whitehawk Road, on the site of the former Whitehawk Library which moved to new premises. There are good bus services on the doorstep, plus cycle storage, and a car club vehicle will also be based at the site. The first tenants in each of the flats will receive free car club membership for two years.

The first Kite Place tenants are due to move in over the next few weeks. The homes were let through Homemove, the council’s choice based lettings system.

Another 29 new council flats are nearing completion in Whitehawk at Hobby Place, next to Whitehawk Community Hub. The one, two, and three bedroom homes are due to be finished next month.

Kite Place and Hobby Place will bring the total number of new council homes completed under the New Homes for Neighbourhoods (NHFN) programme since 2015 to 136, with many more in the pipeline.

This is a step in the right direction but much more new and affordable housing is needed if the city is to meet the needs of it’s growing community, and if it is to offset the incessant and incremental price increases that are being stoked by ever increasing demand for housing.

Within the next few months, planning applications are expected to be accepted for the first three sites in the city’s ground- breaking plan to deliver a thousand truly affordable homes across the city, alongside the 500 council homes.

Available for rent or shared ownership, with the homes to rent affordable for those on the National Living Wage, these will meet some of the demand for housing amongst workers in our public sector and key industries currently priced out of living in Brighton and Hove.

Toads Hole Valley north of Hove is the last major site for housing in the city, bounded as we are by the National Park. It offers the potential for over 700 new homes as part of our City Plan. As many of these must be as truly affordable as possible.

Long-standing national policy requires up to 40% of homes to be affordable in new developments. However it uses the 80% of market rates definition of “affordable” which, if it ever was affordable, isn’t now, and especially in high housing cost areas like Brighton & Hove.

Developers push back on providing affordable housing even at this rate, but in truth few in need of housing in Brighton & Hove can afford a home at 80% of market rates.

Westridge Construction won a Considerate Constructors award for community involvement at this site and the artwork by local children and young people won runner-up prize in a hoardings competition run by the Considerate Constructors Scheme.

Source: B Journal