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Finance and new advice for estate regeneration

Published: Thursday, 15th December 2016

Planning’s role in transforming neighbourhoods is highlighted as the government announces an additional £32m of funding to help regenerate neglected housing estates...

An additional £32m of government funding to help regenerate rundown housing estates has been announced as the administration published a strategy which stressed planning’s role in transforming neighbourhoods. The new ‘permission in principle’ regime is highlighted as a potentially key measure.

These latest financial moves mean regeneration schemes can now bid for a share of £140m loan funding, £30m of enabling grant and £2m of so-called capacity building funding.

This support from government is directly targeted at “de-risking” the early stages of regeneration schemes and providing support to areas for such activities as community engagement, feasibility studies, scoping of proposals and master planning. Ministers insisted that “there is also support available for preconstruction activities such demolition and moving residents”.

The new national strategy was developed by an independent advisory panel, chaired by Lord Heseltine and the Housing and Planning Minister Gavin Barwell.

The panel reported that many of the estates in need of regeneration were characterised by “poor quality housing, unattractive buildings in physical decline, and large areas of underutilised and degraded open space. They are often inward looking and physically, socially and economically disconnected from their surroundings, leading to higher concentrations of social deprivation and lack of opportunities for communities living there.”

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has stressed that opportunities for estate regeneration should be considered as part of the evidence base when local plans are formulated.

The strategy said councils should consider using a Local Development Order to unlock schemes on a site specific basis. DCLG has pointed out that in some circumstances, hybrid applications could offer a flexible approach to enable an applicant to start construction of the first phase while securing the principle of development for future phases.

The strategy also said the new form of planning consent, called ‘permission in principle’ (introduced in the Planning Act 2016), could provide a far more certain and streamlined planning process for developers, local authorities and communities. ‘Permission in principle’ offered the prospect of substantially de-risking regeneration schemes, suggested DCLG.

In a separate but related move, London mayor Sadiq Khan has begun consulting on new guidelines for estates regeneration projects, which will inform planning policy and determine eligibility for grant funding.

The guidelines say that demolition and rebuilding should only go ahead after other ways of achieving the aim of regeneration have been considered, and where there is no loss of social housing.

Read the press release.

Roger Milne