|Anyone planning new building projects in their community in England outside of London can now apply for a share of £17 million fund to get their ideas off the ground.|
Housing Minister Mark Prisk said that the fund will cover plans and ideas from self build homes to community shops and ensure that those wishing to realise their vision will no longer be put off building by the challenges of design and permissions.
Until now, the £17 million pot was earmarked solely to help Community Right to Build projects develop their proposals. But to ensure that local building plans can access the same support, whatever route they take, Prisk has expanded the scheme to include any community project.
This means that communities who want to make a change in their area, such as creating a new playground, renovating an empty home or making plots available for house building will be able to access the money they need to develop plans and make it happen. The fund is available for communities outside London until March 2015.
Self builders will also be able to benefit from the fund by joining forces with local people to design and gain approval for the home they want. This pot is in addition to the £30 million Custom Build Fund to help people get projects off the ground.
‘From barn conversions to bungalows, anyone wanting to build new homes in their area should have the opportunity to do so. That’s why we’re opening the door to a £17 million support fund which will help people navigate the early stages of any project,’ said Prisk.
‘Today’s cash will make it easier for aspiring self builders and communities to get their projects off the ground, opening the door for hundreds of potential building projects across the country,’ he added.
According to Andy Rose, chief executive of the Homes and Communities Agency the funding to help community groups boost their capacity to apply for planning permission will be very welcome in our local neighbourhoods and communities.
‘The broadened scope of the programme is evidence of the government’s commitment to help community groups and parish councils to achieve the development that they want to see take place in their local areas,’ he explained.
The approach has already gone down well in London. ‘We’ve been working with this process for over a year. Opening up the fund to as wide a group as possible means it’s even easier for community groups to access the money they need to make positive changes in their neighbourhood and help deliver more affordable homes for the capital,’ said Richard Blakeway, deputy mayor for land and housing.
Meanwhile, Catherine Harrington from the National Community Land Trust Network, said that the announcement will be really welcome news to many community groups across England with aspirations to make their local area stronger and more resilient by developing much needed community led homes or other assets.
‘The community led housing movement is ready to help community land trusts, co-housing groups, housing co-operatives and group self builders get projects off the ground,’ she added.