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DCLG defends fresh housing cuts

A senior civil servant has insisted the delivery plans for affordable housing announced in the spending round are “pretty impressive” when measured in the context of spending cuts.

Communities and Local Government director-general Peter Schofield told Construction News said: “It was always going to be a tough spending round – the government’s had to find £11.5bn in savings.”

He said attention shouldn’t be focused on the amount directly invested, as government will increasingly act “as an enabler of private sector investment”.

In this context, Mr Schofield argued, it was “pretty impressive” that the fund aimed to deliver 165,000 new homes between 2015 and 2018, compared with the 170,000 targeted in the four years prior.

Last week’s spending review saw the budget for the Affordable Homes Programme – which provides grant subsidy for social housing builds – reduced by £504m over three years.

However, a £400m Rent to Buy scheme, funding new-build homes to be let to tenants at affordable rents, was also launched, making up some of the difference.

“The key thing I think is looking at the outcomes that are going to be delivered… actually in a way [the new funding arrangements] will raise the outcome.

“We’re working together in partnership [with the private sector] to deliver the outcomes. 165,000 new affordable homes in that three years is pretty impressive. I think that stands in comparison with any recent period of delivery.”

Meanwhile plans by the Ministry of Defence and Grainger for nearly 4,000 new homes have been approved by Rushmoor Borough Council.

The Aldershot Urban Extension, known as Wellesley, will be phased over the next 12 to 15 years, with 35 per cent of the new homes for social rented or shared ownership.

The 154-hectare master plan was granted outline planning permission, with 110 hectares of associated green space on the southern edge of the former military town, subject to legal agreement.

Also granted approval was the detailed first phase, between Maida Gym and the Duchess of Kent Barracks, which will see 176 family homes and 52 flats beginning early next year.

Two new primary schools will also be built, along with extensions to Connaught and Wavell secondary schools..  

Councillor Gareth Lyon, chairman of Rushmoor Borough Council’s Development Control Committee said: “This is great news for Aldershot.  The development represents a huge investment in the town, bringing more people to Aldershot, providing much-needed new homes, new jobs and a welcome boost to the local economy.”

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