Housing growth

The Government is committed to ensuring that everyone has access to a decent home at a price they can afford. For decades housing supply has failed to keep up with the demand for more homes and the needs of a changing demographic population - more people are choosing to live alone and people are living longer.  

New households are projected to increase by, on average, 252,000 each year between now and 2031 . This has led to significant problems of affordability, particularly for those seeking to buy their first home.  

In recent years, the housebuilding industry has responded well to the challenge of increasing housing supply, with supply in 2007/08 reaching 207,500 additional homes - an increase of 59 per cent compared with 130,000 in 2001/02. This is the highest rate of housing supply since 1977.

However, in the short-term, there are undoubtedly challenges to overcome with global financial and economic conditions having a severe impact on the delivery of housing. The Government is therefore taking extensive action to support the housebuilding sector during these difficult economic times through the Housing Pledge with initiatives such as Kickstart (external link).

The Government remains focused on the long-term challenge to increase housing supply, which is even more significant today. The Growth programmes are a central part of achieving this step-change in housing supply.  

Sustainable Communities

The 2003 Sustainable Communities Plan set out how the Government wanted to see more homes, but homes that were part of Sustainable Communities - places where people wanted to live, work and spend their leisure time.

Growth Areas

The Sustainable Communities Plan set out the Government's ambitious plans for housing supply across four Growth Areas:

  • the Thames Gateway
  • Milton Keynes-South Midlands (MKSM)
  • London-Stansted-Cambridge-Peterborough (LSCP)
  • Ashford

which together with London had the potential to deliver an additional 200,000 homes by 2016.  The Plan outlined how additional support would be provided via a significant increase in dedicated resources, over and above mainstream departmental funding, together with major reforms of housing and planning, including a new approach to how we build and what we build.

Growth Points

The Growth Points initiative was announced in 2005 as part of Government's response to Kate Barker's report on the shortfall between housing supply and demand.  It is a bottom up Partnership for Growth with local authorities coming forward with their own sustainable growth proposals for how they could deliver new housing in a sustainable way above previous growth targets.  The Growth Points initiative included a cross-Government assessment process including the Department for Transport, Highways Agency, Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs, the Environment Agency and Natural England.   There are now 50 Growth Points across England.  In addition, in London the boroughs of Barnet, Brent, Islington and Croydon have been identified as Opportunity Boroughs with access to support and funding in recognition of their willingness and capacity to deliver significant additional housing growth above the targets in the London Plan.

Delivery of Growth

Across the Ashford, LSCP and MKSM Growth Areas, Local Delivery Vehicles have been established in ten growth locations to support the targeted investment and co-ordinated decision making necessary to deliver the growth agenda locally, working with local authorities and other delivery partners.  These local delivery arrangements respond to individual local needs and circumstances and include two statutory organisations: the West Northamptonshire Development Corporation and the Milton Keynes Partnership. The Homes and Communities Agency's role is to support places deliver homes and communities where people will live in high quality, affordable and sustainable homes. The agency has a key role in bringing land back into productive use and improving the quality of the physical and social environment.  

Funding Support

The Government is committed to ensuring that housing growth is accompanied by the necessary infrastructure needed to support sustainable development at the local level.  Delivering the necessary infrastructure such as local transport, health and education facilities, public realm improvements and green spaces is critical to delivering housing, not only for future residents, but also to address the aspirations and concerns of existing communities.  The Government's approach is that growth should be funded through mainstream departmental funding, private sector contributions and additional funding such as Growth Funds.

The Department provides Growth Funds to the Growth Areas and Growth Points to support the delivery of infrastructure.  The Department has made available £1.7bn of finance in the CSR07 period (2008/09-2010/11) to support the delivery of infrastructure.  Growth Funds are awarded to local authorities as unringfenced grant giving them the freedom and flexibility to decide how to use funding to best meet local priorities.

Growth Funds are complemented by the Community Infrastructure Fund (CIF), a joint CLG and Department for Transport fund to support the delivery of small to medium size transport schemes linked to key housing developments.  Round 1 of the CIF budget committed £200m to 25 transport schemes across the Growth Areas.  A further £300m has been committed for Round 2 (£100m of which has been allocated for the Thames Gateway) to support growth projects across the whole of England.  The fund is managed by the Homes and Communities Agency.    

The private sector also contributes towards the cost of delivering housing and supporting infrastructure, and the Government has legislated to introduce the Community Infrastructure Levy, which will give local authorities the power to collect a charge on identified new development.  The proceeds of the levy will be spent on local and sub-regional infrastructure to support development.

Contact us

If you can't find the information you need in this section or have enquiries about its contents please email: growthareas@communities.gsi.gov.uk

Key words: Sustainable Communities Plan, Growth Funds, Growth Area Funding, Ashford , Milton Keynes South Midlands, London Stansted Cambridge Peterborough, Community Infrastructure Fund, Local Delivery Vehicle

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