Growth areas need more local investment to succeed, warns think tank

Growth areas need more local investment to succeed, warns think tank

Rosie Niven
New Start magazine

A failure to fund local infrastructure in the growth areas will create the ‘sink estates’ of tomorrow, an influential think tank warned this week.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) has called on the government to double the number of homes it provides in the growth areas over the next ten years to help get working class families on the housing ladder.

In a new report it suggests an extra 217,000 homes are needed on top of existing plans for 200,000 homes before 2016.

Some £300m per year will be needed for infrastructure in the growth areas if the government chooses to step up housing building levels, the report said. But a senior IPPR member told New Start the temptation to divert spending away from community facilities towards big infrastructure projects had to be resisted.

Jim Bennett, head of social policy, said funding for community facilities like schools would be a key part of attracting families to new communities.

The planning gain supplement would go some way towards meeting the £300m infrastructure bill, he said. But the scaling back of section 106 agreements would mean a key source of funding for local community facilities would be lost.

‘There will be so much pressure to use the planning gain supplement for transport projects at the regional level,’ he said. ‘If we are to make these communities work, it is really important to foster good community networks.’

The report stresses the importance of building the kind of mixed communities that people on higher as well as lower incomes will want to live in. It also warns against building too many two bedroom flats and highlights the need for the developments to include enough housing which is suitable for families.

Meanwhile, a report by two housing organisations reveals southwest England is the most unaffordable place to buy a house in the UK. Jointly published by the National Housing Federation (NHF) and the Chartered Institute of Housing, the research highlights how the south west is the only region in the country with above average house prices and below average income.

Derek Cash, head of south region for the NHF, said: ‘Unless some drastic action is taken, the outlook is only going to get much worse.’