Housing zones: power for growth and jobs

Housing zones power for growth and jobsThe government has announced plans to create 30 housing zones on brownfield sites across the country as part of our efforts to increase housing supply.

This prospectus sets out more detail of the funding and bidding process to create housing zones outside of London.

A London housing zones prospectus has been published by the Mayor of London and formally invites bids from London boroughs.

The housing zones programme offers the chance to unlock brownfield land that has the potential to provide viable housing schemes. This is through a combination of:

  • long term investment funding

  • planning simplification (eg local development orders)

  • local authority leadership

  • dedicated brokerage support from central government and the Advisory Team for Large Applications (ATLAS) planning support.

Central government is making available £200 million of recoverable investment funding for housing zones in England outside of London.

Local authorities who submit successful proposals for housing zones will also have access to cheaper borrowing at the Public Works Loan Board’s project rate for capital infrastructure expenditure, relating to the zone in 2014 to 2015 and 2015 to 2016.

Expressions of interest must be submitted to the Homes and Communities Agency by noon 3 October 2014.

Building work at Northshore Innovation Centre gets underway

Building work at  Northshore Innovation Centre  gets underwayWork has started on site for a new state-of-the-art Innovation Centre Northshore, the regeneration scheme owned by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), on the banks of the River Tees next to Stockton-on-Tees town centre.

The three-storey, 36,000 sq ft building constructed to a BREEAM Very Good specification is a partnership project between Muse, Stockton Council, Teesside University and the HCA.

The project went ahead following £2.87 million investment from the North East European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) with HCA providing the match funding.

Located centrally within the Northshore development, the building will provide flexible space for new and growing SMEs in the digital, scientific and creative sectors.

Representatives from each of the partners, as well as the company which will carry out the construction, Esh Build – part of Esh Group – met on site to celebrate the milestone with a groundbreaking ceremony.

As well as flexible office space provided in two rectangular office wings either side of a glazed central atrium, the building will feature a training suite, meeting rooms and a seminar facility designed to maximise interaction and networking between occupiers.

Marie Kiddell, Area Manager at the HCA, said: “The start of the Innovation centre is a major milestone for Northshore and when completed it will create opportunities for local businesses to grow and develop in a state of the art building.

This project along with Thirteen’s new headquarters next door is fantastic news for Northshore, breathing new life into the area and continuing the regeneration of the area.”

Leader of Stockton Council, Councillor Bob Cook, said: “The creation of the Innovation Centre is yet another example of how we are working with Muse, Teesside University and the Homes and Communities Agency to help Stockton thrive as a place to do business.

“Just last month research by RBS revealed that Stockton had the fastest growing economy in the North East and the Manpower Group found that people in Stockton earn on average more than people who live elsewhere in the region. The Innovation Centre will be another fantastic asset to our Borough.”

Newquay Airport awarded £6m investment

Newquay Airport awarded £6m investmentBusiness Secretary Vince Cable has welcomed a £6 million investment to create a new business development and up to 750 jobs at the Aerohub in Newquay Cornwall Airport.

The funding for the first phase of the business park at the enterprise zone site includes a £2.3 million investment from the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

The scheme also includes a £4 million grant from the European Regional Development Fund Convergence programme, with Cornwall Council providing the land.

The construction programme will start in early October and see completion of phase 1 in June 2015.

Dr Cable said: “Cornwall’s Aerohub is an excellent example of one of the 24 Government-backed enterprise zones that are driving private sector-led growth across England.

“This new funding will help develop valuable infrastructure for the new Business Park to attract increased investment and create more jobs for Newquay and the surrounding area.”

The 53.5 acre business park site will form part of the Aerohub Enterprise Zone and will have space for more than 30,000 sq ft of buildings.

Phase one will ensure the park is investor ready, delivering site services including road access, electricity, water and broadband. The HCA funding also includes a £150,000 contribution to the ‘Rialton Link’ road, adding to the improvement of local infrastructure.

Ian Knight, Head of Area for the Homes and Communities Agency, said: “This is great news for Cornwall. It is an important investment for us because it helps to unlock development on the enterprise zone and act as a spur for further investment and jobs growth.

“We look forward to working with the local partners and using our skills in investment and regeneration to developing a thriving business park. We believe this project will add significant value to the Cornish economy.”

As part of its long term economic plan, the Government set up the 24 enterprise zones as a 25-year project to rebalance the economy and create future centres of excellence in key industries such as aviation, pharmaceutical, offshore energy and automotive. Since their start 3 years ago enterprise zones have created more than 9,000 jobs, attracted more than 300 businesses and secured £1.2 billion of private sector investment.

Work starts to create 4,000 new jobs

Work starts to create 4,000 new jobsConstruction work has started to create job opportunities for up to 4,000 people on land owned by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

The work is being carried out on the infrastructure which will open up a major development site at Capitol Park in Goole, acting as a catalyst for economic growth and creating 116,000 square metres of factories and warehouses to the west of the port.

The HCA, which is investing up to £13 million at the site over the next two years, with support from the European Regional Development Fund, has appointed Lagan Construction Group to build a new 1 kilometre road and associated drainage works.

Rob Pearson, Head of Area at the HCA, said: “The start of work on the new road is fantastic news for the local economy – it will help create employment for the town and the wider community for many years to come.

“This 40 hectare site will provide a range of opportunities for companies to locate in Goole with excellent connections to the Port and the motorway network. We will continue to invest in Capitol Park for the next 5 years working with our partners to help create sustainable jobs for local people.”

Andrew Percy, Member of Parliament for Brigg & Goole, said: “This is a potentially transformative project for the town and for the local economy.

“Thanks to funding from ERDF and the government via the Homes and Communities Agency, this long awaited project is now commencing, with the potential to create thousands of new jobs.”

The work, which will take 16 months to complete, will mean that Lagan Construction Group will work with local businesses wherever possible.

Gavin McKevitt, Regional Director for Scotland and Northern England, at Lagan Construction Group, said: “We are delighted to be close to commencing works on the ground as we are currently progressing the design for the Capitol Park Spine Road Phase 2 project and will be breaking ground early in October.

“Lagan Construction Group looks forward to working with and delivering a successful project for our client, the Homes and Communities Agency, for what is a key project for our business.”

Financial stability in the housing sector continues

Affordable Housing ProgrammeThe social housing sector continues to demonstrate its financial stability, and has access to sufficient finance, according to the latest quarterly survey published by the Homes and Communities Agency yesterday.

Overall the sector is in a strong position in relation to its future financing needs with £13 billion of undrawn borrowing facilities and £4 billion held in cash.

As the regulator of social housing providers, the HCA undertakes a quarterly survey of housing providers to establish the levels of exposure to a range of risks faced by the sector.

This report is based on a survey of all private registered providers owning and/or managing more than 1,000 homes for the quarter ending 30 June 2014.

Investors’ confidence in the sector was demonstrated by the continued trend towards capital market funding; over half of the new funding came from capital markets including the first long term government guaranteed bond arranged through Affordable Housing Company plc, which raised £180 million for English providers.

This report also includes additional information relating to properties developed for market sale – the forecast pipeline for completions over the next 18 months anticipates a marked increase in activity, averaging 879 homes per quarter.

Mick Warner, HCA Deputy Director of Regulatory Operations, said: “The sector as a whole remains financially strong with £13bn undrawn borrowing facilities in place. Most of the sector’s forecast debt requirement over the next 2 years is to fund development programmes.

“The number of unsold AHO and market sales homes fell in the quarter and sales risk is concentrated in relatively few providers. However, pipeline figures for AHO and market sale development in the next 18 months forecast a level of new supply significantly in excess of current sales volumes.

“The July announcements, by HCA and GLA of £1.3 billion allocations to deliver over 60,000 new homes, will give providers greater clarity of their future debt requirements.

“As regulator, we remind providers to ensure that they secure facilities well in advance of need so that they can meet their financial commitments in an orderly manner.”

Wigan gets £10m investment boost for new homes and jobs

Building IndustryMore than 400 affordable homes will be built in Wigan Borough after housing providers secured funding worth nearly £10 million.

Building work on the properties will take place in different locations across the borough during the next three years, paving the way for new jobs in the building trades.

The schemes given funding will help meet the demand for affordable homes and provide a boost for the local construction industry and create job opportunities.

It will be used to build a range of different homes but most of the properties will be available for people on the council’s social housing waiting list to rent. There are currently around 3,000 people waiting for a home in Wigan Borough.

The money has come from the Homes and Communities Agency and is part of a national programme to pay for affordable homes.

Wigan Council and Wigan and Leigh Housing are to build 112 homes on three sites including the former Towns Yard in Hindley where there are plans for a range of family homes, bungalows and flats for older people. The money will also help pay for a supported living scheme for adults with disabilities at the site of the former Tanfield School in Hindley.

Councillor David Molyneux, deputy leader of Wigan Council, said: “It is great news the council, along with other local housing providers, have successfully secured this funding.

“I’m sure construction of these schemes will provide a significant boost to the local building industry but more importantly will help us address the need for more affordable homes across Wigan Borough.

“These homes will be available to those on our housing waiting list and in particular there will be smaller properties which we need to help us manage the impact of welfare reform and the borough’s increasing older population.”

Groundbreaking partnership launched to support Manchester’s housing ambitions

Manchester PlaceA strengthened alliance that could create 50,000 jobs by 2023 has been launched between the HCA and Manchester City Council at the city’s Central Library.  

The partnership, Manchester Place, will create a pipeline of development-ready sites to help the city meet its ambitious target of creating 55,000 new homes by 2027.

It will work with investors – such as Manchester Life – developers and others who wish to support high quality housing across the city to ensure there are sufficient opportunities.

Forecasts suggest that the city has the potential to generate thousands of employment opportunities and that by 2030 the population will exceed 600,000 people.

Key tasks for Manchester Place include working with landowners to get sites ready for development, assembling land where necessary while boosting economic growth and helping the local economy.

An annual investment plan will identify priority areas for public and private sector investment which can unlock residential growth. These will be designated as Investment Action Areas, with Ancoats and New Islington one of the first.

Councillor Jeff Smith, Executive Member for Housing and Regeneration, said: “Manchester Place will secure an integrated approach by Manchester and the HCA to stimulating faster and wider interest in the city’s housing market.

“We welcome conversations with other investors, both international and UK-based, about the many opportunities in the city and will engage with landowners and developers to create a development pipeline for all investors and developers willing to support our residential growth strategy.

“This is a significant partnership which should have a huge positive impact on Manchester’s housing market.”

Deborah McLaughlin, NW Executive Director of the Homes and Communities Agency, said: “Manchester Place captures the strong working relationship that has developed between the City Council and the Homes and Communities Agency, and is a great demonstration of how we can jointly use pioneering investment models to stimulate growth.”

HCA’s affordable homes funding announced

Help to Buy helps Britain buildingThe Homes and Communities Agency has set out plans for £886 million in affordable homes funding for 160 providers across England that will boost the trades and create new jobs.

A total of 43,821 new affordable homes will be delivered across 2,697 schemes, making a significant contribution to the Government’s ambition for building new affordable homes by March 2018, while supporting overall housing supply and local economic growth.

New Housing Minister Brandon Lewis said: “Housebuilding is an essential part of this government’s long-term economic plan.

“That’s why we have designed an ambitious new scheme to build affordable homes at the fastest rate for 20 years, which will support 165,000 jobs in construction and sustain thousands of small businesses.”

The initial allocations have been made under the HCA’s 2015-18 Affordable Homes Programme, following a competitive bidding process for £1.7 billion of funding.

They are the result of rigorous assessment, based on fit with local priorities, value for money and deliverability. Allocations have been discussed with the relevant local council to align investment with local priorities for their area.

The remaining funding will be made available for providers to bid into the HCA in due course via Continuous Market Engagement (CME), as planned, in order to allow housing providers further opportunities to work up firm schemes for future delivery during the 2015-18 period.

HCA Chief Executive Andy Rose said: “We have set in place a solid delivery programme that will ensure a smooth transition from our current Affordable Homes Programme, and that delivery can start promptly.

“The allocations announced today are closely aligned with locally identified priorities and offer value for money and increased certainty of delivery, with over 75% of the homes we are funding on firm schemes.

“Just over half of the available funding has been allocated. The remaining funding will be allocated on a Continuous Market Engagement basis, giving even more partners time to work up deliverable bids to meet local needs and their future development aspirations.

Work on Doncaster estate set to get underway

Work on Doncaster estate set to get underwayDoncaster residents will soon benefit from a £6.7 million investment to build new homes and regenerate part of the Willow Estate in Thorne.

Jephson Homes Housing Association has teamed up with Doncaster Council, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) and Ignite Homes to create 73 one, two and three-bedroom homes on a site that has been vacant for the past decade. It’s the first scheme to benefit from the new Delivery Partner Panel.

They will be completed in two stages, with 42 finished by March 2015 and the remainder in 2016.

Stuart Shore, Jephson northern regional director, said: “We’re delighted to get started on this development of high-quality homes for local people. We’re very grateful to both Doncaster Council and the HCA for their support to make this exciting development possible.

“This is a key site for regeneration of the area and our plans have been very well received by residents given the high need for affordable housing in the area.”

Lisa Jones, Area manager at the Homes and Communities Agency said: “These 71 new homes will make a real difference to residents in Thorne and it is great to see what a difference our investment of £800,000 will make to the local community.

“Our partners in Doncaster council used our Delivery Partner Panel to not only save money but also reduce the amount of time it takes to appoint a developer for the site – the first local authority in the country to make use of the new panel.”

Peter Dale, director of regeneration and environment at Doncaster Council, added: “This scheme is fantastic news for families in Doncaster. Creating jobs, growth and housing are top priorities for the council. So we’re delighted to be working with Jephson Homes Housing Association, the HCA and Ignite Homes to regenerate this area of Thorne.”

Paul Moore, director of Ignite Homes, believes the project will bring real benefits to the neighbourhood, adding: “This is the first scheme in the north of England to be built under the Homes and Communities Agency’s new partnership framework. It’s a great example of using public money to create homes and improve communities.”

Bobby Chakravarthy, associate partner for construction and property consultants, Arcus consulting, who worked on the development, added: “We’re thrilled to see this flagship project starting on site. Jephson Housing has committed to excellent design standards, which will improve residents’ quality of life of and add value to the local community.”

Work gets underway on new Urban Park

Work under way on new Urban ParkA new park is beginning to take shape as construction work gets underway next to the Transporter Bridge in Middlesbrough’s historic area of town.

The new linear park in Middlehaven is being built along Cleveland and Durham Streets and will strengthen connections between the Transporter Bridge and the modern town centre.

Initial work on the site has just started and the first phase of the park will be open in time for Christmas 2014.

At the same time additional work is being carried out to clean up an old gas works which used to be on the site.

The £1.2 million Park will also provide a focus for the Urban Pioneers development of 14 serviced plots around the park and adjacent to the historic Captain Cook pub which is providing an opportunity for individuals or groups to build small schemes on a ‘build now pay later’ basis.

Chris Munro, Senior Area Manager at the Homes and Communities Agency said: “The Park and the Urban Pioneers scheme will help continue the transformation of Middlehaven, building on the development around the dock.

“Our investment in the park will ensure the quality of the community that will start to be built here in 2015.”

Councillor Charlie Rooney, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Regeneration, said:“The start of work on the new Urban Park is the next stage in the redevelopment of one of the most important regeneration sites in the region.

“Middlehaven will play a key role in the town’s future and the park will be a focal point for the Urban Pioneers initiative and the scheme as a whole.”