Larkfleet welcomes greater focus on North and Midlands
16 December 2020
Housing secretary, Robert Jenrick, has today announced a change to the proposed algorithm that will determine the number of new homes required to be built in a defined area. Karl Hick, Chairman and Co-owner of the Larkfleet Group, a Lincolnshire-based developer, has welcomed the news and the accompanying plans to improve access to brownfield sites.
Today’s announcement follows a consultation launched in the summer aimed at establishing how best to support the government’s ambition to deliver 300,000 new homes a year by mid-2020s. The new proposals will prioritise reuse of vacant buildings and development of brownfield sites to support the recovery of city centres and protect green spaces.
The government will also revise the 80/20 rule which guides how much funding is available to local areas to help build homes. These revisions aim to level up funding across England’s 20 largest cities and urban areas rather than concentrating it on London and the South East.
Karl Hick, Chairman of the Larkfleet Group said: “I fully support adjusting the principles that guide decisions around new homes and the additional measures announced today. These changes will level up the delivery of housing in the Midlands and the North, specifically in urban areas. Even in normal times the original formula would have been controversial thanks to the emphasis it would have placed on developments in London and the South East. Given the impact of COVID-19 on cities and urban areas north of London, it was essential that the government look again at the balance of support for housebuilding.
“With the adoption of more flexible working practices we are seeing a marked increase in people willing to commute further to work, less frequently. As a result, peoples’ places of work are no longer such a dominant driver in their decision of where to live. Improving the planning system to favour regeneration of urban brownfield sites and reuse of vacant buildings will not only deliver suitable homes in the places where people want to live but also drive investment and revitalisation of high streets scarred by the pandemic.
“I also welcome the additional funding plans for brownfield development. Currently SME housebuilders are discouraged from taking on challenging or large sites due to the associated higher infrastructure costs. Traditional banks tend to prefer to lend for land or build costs, so a government fund designed to help SMEs meet infrastructure expenditures for these difficult sites would remove a significant barrier for smaller, regional firms.
“By levelling up funding across the regions, the government is paving the way for firms to lead the redevelopment and delivery of new homes in their own areas. An in-depth understanding of the local architecture, population needs, and historical context will ensure that the right sort of homes are delivered in the right places, rather than facilitating blanket coverage of the South East.”