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London Councils could Get £750,000 Each From the Fund to Boost Housing and Planning Teams

Mayor Sadiq Khan is making £10m available to London boroughs to help bolster their planning and housing team, saying that cutbacks have left them decimated.

City Hall has launched a Homebuilding Capacity Fund as part of an overall effort to support town halls throughout London as they engage new staff to oversee housebuilding programmes.

Each council will be allowed to bid for up to £750,000 from the fund to increase building capacity throughout London.

The initiative appears as councils in the capital prepare for a dedicated return to housebuilding for the first time since the 1980s- at the same time as the government prepares to cap their borrowing for housing and development.

Boroughs in London will also be able to access a grant programme made available by Mr. Khan’s administration, this one geared toward building new affordable homes.

Councils across the UK are said to have submitted substantial bids for new funding, with allocations to be confirmed shortly.

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Budget cuts and nearly 30 years away from bigger-scale housebuilding has had a detrimental effect on building capacity within the housebuilding and planning departments of local authorities. In the past eight years, there has been a 50% reduction in budgets for planning and development teams.

Mr. Khan stated that the housing crisis in London has been building up for decades and there is no fast and easy solution. Progress will only be made, he said, if councils can take the initiative in getting new homes constructed.

The Mayor said that during the 1970s, central government supported London councils, which produced over 20,000 homes a year. These councils have only built 2,500 homes over the past seven years, including 700 that were completed in 2017.

Although they have wanted to accomplish more, councils have been impeded by the government cuts for too long. The mayor’s new Homebuilding Capacity Fund won’t change those cuts, but it will help councils improve their building capacity.

The funding source is business rate receipts over the government baseline during the 2018-19 financial year.

Funding bids will be considered from London councils which can prove their dedication to delivering:

  • ‘Next generation’ council homes.
  • More homes on small sites, including affordable homes such as social rented.
  • Proactive housebuilding plans in regions that have good growth potential.
  • Ideal density across new residential developments in a given area.

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