Councils to be given new powers to deliver much-needed homes

The government has unveiled new proposals to provide councils with pioneering powers in the hope of delivering more homes to families who desperately need them.

Housing minister Dominic Raab has announced the plans in which local authorities will be able to seek ministerial approval to set up New Town Development Corporations which would then be responsible for building new towns or garden communities.

The new bodies themselves will be responsible for master planning and project development, bringing on board private investment, partnering with developers and overseeing the completion of a new town or garden village with each expected to deliver tens of thousands of new homes.

Held accountable by councils, the development corporations will be expected to involve communities in their projects, which includes allowing residents to have their say on how high-quality homes are delivered.

Commenting on the proposals, Raab said: “We need to build the homes our communities need and I’m committed to giving councils the tools they need to deliver. That’s why we’re giving councils the option of applying to establish development corporations. These will be locally accountable and must listen to the views of the community to ensure that the right homes are built in the right places.”

A “limited number” of responsibilities will remain with the housing secretary, MHCLG said, including approving compulsory purchase orders. But the announcement is just one of many expected in the coming year or two which will help the Conservative party in its drive to increase housebuilding up and down the country. It will form part of the government’s wide-ranging programme of planning reform and help Theresa May on her pledge to deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.

Martin Tett, housing spokesperson for the Local Government Association, welcomed the announcement as positive but warned there was still much more that needed to be done to fix the UK housing crisis.

He added: “We will continue to engage with the government to ensure that we can make the most of these new opportunities to deliver homes through local development corporations, and will continue to support the sector in efforts to deliver new homes. However, there is no quicker way to deliver these homes than by triggering the renaissance in council housebuilding we need by lifting the housing borrowing cap and enabling councils to borrow to build once more.”

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