Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) has responded aggressively and with enthusiasm to the challenges from DCLG, HCA and the Housing White Paper. The Local Authority has had £1million grant funding confirmed to unblock, de-risk and accelerate housing growth. This comes as part of £32million awarded nationally to over 70 organisations. A significant win for Central Bedfordshire and the South East Midlands LEP area, with another £390,000 awarded to Milton Keynes.
This will underpin the sustainability of the area and create an environment for investment in its market towns. Based within the Oxford Cambridge Growth corridor, Central Bedfordshire is experiencing high economic and housing growth, as well as being under pressure from London commuters seeking affordable homes.
Central Bedfordshire has a huge appetite to answer the Government’s agendas and meet the housing demands of its residents. It is seeking to address needs across a complete mixture of tenures as well as aid regeneration in existing housing areas suffering from decline.
The grants come from the DCLG Estate Regeneration and HCA Large Site Acceleration Funds, announced by Sajid Javid this week (wc 27th March). The money will be targeted on three estates in the market towns of Dunstable, Sandy and in Houghton Regis, to help connect existing communities with new communities, as significant housing growth is rolled out over the coming years.
Jason Longhurst, Director of Regeneration and Business at CBC, said, “This is a very positive move from DCLG and will have a massive impact in these areas. We have a huge growth target which is both a challenge and an opportunity. For us, the focus is on sustainable growth and complements our emerging Local Plan, which will be out for consultation in the summer. We will be investing in comprehensive research and master planning that will ensure innovative - and swift - housing delivery. It will help to underpin the area’s sustainability and create an optimistic environment for investment in our backbone market towns, communities and business sectors.
“Central Bedfordshire is in an enviable position, leading the Oxford/Cambridge corridor, we have committed to major new infrastructure and this funding award is an endorsement of the proactive approach we take to sustainable growth.”
Starting immediately and over the next three years, CBC will be exploring the very real changes that are taking place in its town centres, on its high streets and in the future of housing. They will assess how modern town centres must pro-actively link with the new communities that will evolve alongside projected housing growth, seeking the views of local people through extensive community engagement. Some of the allocated funding will be accelerating housing starts on the major urban extension of HRN 1 and at Kingsland, Houghton Regis.
Central Bedfordshire needs to supply 22,000 new homes to meet existing targets in its five year housing supply plan and a further 20,000 new homes by 2035. The land is available but build rates need to be accelerated, alongside related infrastructure. Hence this commitment to new ways of working, both on council owned sites, other public sector site and with the private sector.