HCA promises more help for regeneration schemes
The Homes and Communities Agency’s £93 million cash injection is just the start of state efforts to revive stalled regeneration schemes in the capital.
London mayor Boris Johnson joined the HCA earlier this week to announce the first wave of action to save thousands of construction jobs.
The move targeted five mothballed projects for “immediate intervention” to secure the construction of 1,500 homes, and up to 6,000 more in the future. These schemes include Barratt Home’s Woodberry Down estate and two projects run by First Base, in Greenwich and Islington.
The £93 million is part of a £135 million bid to kick-start housing construction in London.
The HCA intends to hand over the money to either the registered social landlord or the developer, depending on whether the project is getting an additional grant or bridging a financial gap, by the end of March.
Work is expected to start on the Aylesbury estate this month to create 5,000 mixed tenure
HCA regional director for London David Lunts said lots more help was on the way. “We are looking at 30 sites. We are not saying that we can only help five sites. This is a rolling review,” he said.
Mr Lunts said that building costs were cheaper now than two years ago and the agency was “keen to push developers in terms of value for money”.
He added: “We are gong to invest £3 billion during the next two years. We do not want to sit on this investment because a lot of construction activity has stalled, and we see our role to kick start that development.”
Mr Johnson added that the move was a “shot in the arm” for London’s development sector. “As this rolls out, thousands of construction sector jobs will be saved. But, more importantly, the sector will emerge strong to build and grow London when the recovery comes,” he said.
Meanwhile, HCA chief executive Sir Bob Kerslake refused to rule out increasing the body’s housing PFI budget. The £1.8 billion budget has been oversubscribed by £2.2 billion.
The Local Government Association’s project delivery unit 4Ps suggested last month that the HCA could dip into its overall budget of £17.3 billion to support more projects.
Sir Bob said this week that the schemes were up to three years from starting and the agency would assess grant and delivery issues “at that time”.
He added: “We are still at the bidding stage – it would be premature to think about reassigning money at this stage.”
Housing schemes receiving funding
- Heart of East Greenwich: First Base for Greenwich Council
- St Andrew’s Hospital: Barratt for Tower Hamlets Council
- Woodberry Down: Berkeley Homes for Hackney Council
- Holloway Road: First Base for Islington Council
- Aylesbury Estate: London & Quadrant for Southwark Council