Kent County Council recognises the demonstrable need for new housing within the county and continues to lobby government for its support to deliver vital infrastructure supporting suitably located, high quality development across Kent.
On the 4th July 2017, the Department for Communities and Local Government launched the £2.3 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) to unlock up to 100,000 new homes across the country.
As part of the wider £23billion National Productivity Investment Fund, the HIF is aimed at providing grant funding to unlock new homes in areas with the greatest need for housing and fund vital physical infrastructure the lack of which can act as a barrier to housebuilding.
Upper tier authorities were invited to bid for up to £250 million of forward funding although exceptional bids could seek higher levels of funding.
This element of the fund is intended to deliver a small number of strategic and high impact infrastructure schemes which will give the market confidence to provide further investment and homes in the area.
Kent County Council worked collaboratively with district and borough councils, and relevant partners to develop expressions of interests for two ambitious bids for forward funding.
The County Council has prioritised an exceptional bid comprising almost £300 million of physical infrastructure necessary to de-risk and accelerate growth at Otterpool Park, Shepway – a garden settlement already endorsed by the Government.
The second bid sought forward funding for key transport improvements in the Swale Borough which are necessary to support long term housing delivery on sites allocated in the recently adopted Local Plan.
Paul Carter, Leader of the Council, said: “Kent is under increasing pressure to deliver new homes and infrastructure for its existing and future residents.
“It is essential that housing and growth is well planned and sensitively located with infrastructure funded and built in advance of the building of new homes.
“With Kent expected to deliver in excess of 175,000 new homes over the next 15 years, the Housing Infrastructure Fund proves an exciting opportunity to forward fund the necessary infrastructure to accelerate investment and diversify the housebuilding market in Kent, creating new sustainable communities where people want to live and work. It is encouraging to see the Government’s continued commitment to bring forward new homes in areas of substantial housing need and I fully endorse the ambitious projects and bids put forward by Kent County Council.”
The two expressions of interests were submitted to the Government on the 28th September 2017 and further details can be found at http://www.kent.gov.uk/about-the-council/strategies-and-policies/environment-waste-and-planning-policies
If successful at this expression of interest stage, bids will be developed into business cases that will be submitted to government in Spring 2018 with a decision on funding awards expected by Summer 2018.
If successful, funds need to be spent by 31 March 2021.