The government’s housing and regeneration quango is to get new planning and compulsory purchase powers as part of an expanded role for the body, the chancellor announced in today’s Budget.

In his speech, chancellor Phillip Hammond confirmed that the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) would be renamed Homes England and would “expand” to help support local authorities and developers to deliver new housing and infrastructure.

He said: “Local authorities will need help and support. Developers will need encouragement and persuasion. Infrastructure to facilitate higher density development must be funded and delivered.

“So the Homes and Communities Agency will expand to become ‘Homes England‘. Bringing together money, expertise, and planning and compulsory purchase powers. With a clear remit to facilitate delivery of sufficient new homes, where they are most needed, to deliver a sustained improvement in affordability.”

The accompanying Treasury budget document says the government “will strengthen the ability of the Homes and Communities Agency to use investment and planning powers to intervene more actively in the land market”.

It goes on to say that Homes England’s work would be aided by a new £1.1 billion Land Assembly Fund.

The fund will comprise of money from the government’s National Productivity Investment Fund, the document says, which was launched last year to “upgrade the UK’s infrastructure” and “underpin” the government’s industrial strategy.

The document adds: “The new [Land Assembly Fund] will enable Homes England to work alongside private developers to develop strategic sites, including new settlements and urban regeneration schemes.”

A further budget document on plans to boost growth and housing in the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford corridor says the government will work with the HCA on a potential new town in the sub-region.

It says that the government will, following a recommendation from advisory body the National Infrastructure Commission, “consider opportunities for one or more major new settlements in the corridor”. The government “will work closely with the Homes and Communities Agency and local partners to explore such opportunities further,” it adds.

Source: John Geoghegan, Planning Resource, 22 November 2017

Local Comment:  The HCA owns the Mollington Link site in Birkenhead, which is just outside the Birkenhead & Tranmere Neighbourhood Area.  However, there is a possibility that the Forum could prepare a Neighbourhood Development Order to build community-led housing there. – Philip Barton