Government presses ahead with plans to 'directly commission' new housing

Published: Tuesday 2 December 2014
By: Pete Apps

The government will pilot its plan to 'directly commission' new housing and will also extend the affordable homes programme.

These were the key announcements from the launch of the National Infrastructure Plan this morning, with Danny Alexander revealing that the government is 'taking forward' the plan to directly build homes he first floated at the Liberal Democrat conference in October.

The chief secretary to the Treasury also said the affordable homes programme would be extended to 2020, with £957m of funding to help build 275,000 affordable homes over the life of the next Parliament.

Mr Alexander said the 'direct commissioning' would be piloted on a 10,000 home site at a former RAF base in Northstowe.

'To get to [300,000 homes per year] requires us to think radically,' he said. 'An idea I have been promoting is the direct government commissioning of housing.'

He said the government would decide on a figure for the number of homes the country needed in a specific year.

'The message to the house building sector would be simple: if you can't deliver these homes, we will,' he added.

The Homes and Communities Agency will lead the development of the Northstowe site, acting as master planner and commissioner.

This will see it delivered 'twice as fast as the conventional development routes', with the government reporting on the 'feasibility and economic impacts of pursuing this model at a wider scale', the National Infrastructure Plan document said.

On the Affordable Homes Programme, which currently runs from 2015 to 2018, Mr Alexander said: 'I can tell you today that we are extending the affordable homes programme for a further two years, which will see 275,000 homes delivered in the next Parliament.'

The National Infrastructure Plan also included commitments to provide infrastructure to unlock large development sites in Barking and Ebbsfleet. He also confirmed reports that the government will support a garden city in Bicester.