Government’s housing deals facing an uncertain future
As part of the government’s strategy to boost housing delivery across the country last year MHCLG published housing growth deals between central government and four parts of the country. These deals would enable access to funding in return for higher rates of housing delivery. However, these four deals have experienced difficulties and the future of the programme looks uncertain.
A housing deal had been agreed between Oxfordshire’s six local authorities, whereby in return for delivering 100,000 homes the authorities were offered £215 million. As part of the deal all six local authorities were required to submit their Local Plans by April. While the six local authorities managed to submit their Local Plans changes in the political makeup of South Oxfordshire has threatened the housing deal.
After local elections, the Conservatives lost control of South Oxfordshire to a coalition of Liberal Democrats, Greens and Independent Councillors. This coalition have stated that the local plan will now be reviewed, and that nothing is on or off the table. By delaying the process further or even withdrawing the plan may put the money from the government in jeopardy.
There is already a precedent for the government withdrawing funding; in March 2019, central government withdrew their agreement with Great Manchester authorities, which anticipated providing £68 million, after the draft spatial framework proposed housing delivery rates below those agreed under the deal.
A £100 million deal with the West Midlands councils, dependent on delivery of 215,000 homes, also required 16 local plans to be updated and adopted by the end of 2019, the progress of which is as yet unknown.
While in the West of England, a full housing deal was expected by the end of 2018 but there is no sign of one coming anytime soon.