£1.2bn starter homes fund gets to work

The UK government said its £1.2 billion Starter Homes Land Fund will soon start to provide new homes for first-time buyers aged between 23 and 40 at a discount of at least 20% below market value.

Houses under the scheme will be built on brownfield sites across England — including a number of locations in the Manchester and Liverpool areas — housing minister Gavin Barwell confirmed.

A first wave of 30 local authority partnerships — selected on their potential for early delivery — will lead the building schemes.

Cllr Martin Tett, housing spokesman for the Local Government Association, gave the news a qualified welcome, saying: “Councils support measures to boost home ownership and starter homes are one of the ways this can be achieved.

“It is good that the government is working closely with councils to build more homes, alongside the infrastructure needed to support strong communities.

“Ultimately, local areas will need discretion on the number of starter homes required in new developments.

“This will allow councils to ensure a mix of homes – to rent and buy – are built which are affordable for those people that need them and that are crucial for enabling people to save money towards a deposit.

“The Government’s Housing White Paper is a further opportunity to boost housing supply, affordability and home ownership.

“If we are to stand any chance of solving our housing crisis, it must recognise that a renaissance in housebuilding is essential to ensure more of the genuinely affordable homes that our communities desperately need are built.”

Barwell said: “This first wave of partnerships shows the strong local interest to build thousands of starter homes on hundreds of brownfield sites in the coming years.

“One in three councils has expressed an interest to work with us so far.”

The Starter Homes Land Fund was set up to prepare suitable land for accelerated starter home developments.

Each local authority partnership will work with the Homes and Communities Agency to identify and take forward land opportunities for the starter homes fund.

The Homes and Communities Agency received 79 expressions of interest from 120 local authorities across England outside of London, many involving joint submissions, in response to the starter homes project.

The Starter Home Land Fund was established in April 2016 to support the acquisition of suitable land for starter home developments.

More than 70 sites across England have already received investments, including land at: Plymouth, Bury, Basildon, Stockport, Bridgwater, Cinderford, Minehead, Bristol, Trafford, Isle of Wight, South Ribble and Swindon.

The Homes and Communities Agency is also seeking expressions of interest from local authorities interested in using their land to deliver other homes “at pace” via a £1.7 billion accelerated construction plan recently announced.

This could see up to 15,000 homes started on surplus public sector land during this session of the UK parliament.

The 30 Starter Home Land Fund partnerships are:

  • Blackburn with Darwen Council
  • Blackpool Council
  • Bristol City Council
  • Central Bedfordshire Council
  • Cheshire West and Chester Council
  • Chesterfield Borough Council
  • Chichester District Council
  • City of Lincoln
  • Ebbsfleet Development Corporation
  • Fareham Borough Council
  • Gloucester City Council
  • Greater Manchester Combined Authority (Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan)
  • Lincolnshire County Council
  • Liverpool City Council (in association with Sefton, Knowsley, Halton, Wirral, St Helens)
  • Luton Borough Council
  • Mid Sussex District Council
  • Middlesbrough Council
  • North Somerset Council
  • Northumberland County Council
  • Pendle Borough Council
  • Plymouth City Council
  • Rotherham Metropolitan Council
  • Rushmoor Borough Council
  • Sheffield City Council
  • South Kestevan District Council
  • South Ribble Borough Council (in association with Preston City Council and Lancashire County Council)
  • South Somerset District Council
  • Stoke-on-Trent City Council
  • West Somerset Council
  • Worthing Council