Housing Minister Kit Malthouse pays Bristol a visit
Housing Minister Kit Malthouse MP recently visited Bristol to provide advice to members of the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) and discuss how central government can provide further support for new homes in the region, and help deliver the Minister’s mantra of “more, better, faster”.
The need for more affordable housing and infrastructure to support development were specific areas that Mr Malthouse discussed with civic leaders, emphasising that local authorities need to make clear the requirements of s106 agreements to ensure that local concerns over affordable housing and infrastructure were able to be addressed.
The current deficiencies of the West of England’s infrastructure was also a key topic of discussion with the Housing Minister. Whether it is national and local politicians, or developers, at a public consultation event, the delivery of supporting infrastructure is an issue which is raised regularly when discussing proposed developments. Stating that “historically this country has not been very good at putting infrastructure first”, it is evident that this issue is not far away from the Minister’s thinking either.
As part of the UK Government’s drive to help rectify this issue they have created the so-called ‘Housing Infrastructure Fund’ (HIF), which has approximately £5.5 billion worth of funding in its coffers aimed at providing infrastructure to “release land and enable housing.” Capitalising on the national drive to address bottlenecks in infrastructure provision, WECA have submitted a bid to the HIF for £250 million to improve transport links and open up new sites for housing between Bristol and Keynsham.
Mr Malthouse also noted the importance of design when presenting housing proposals to the public on his visit to the west, and sought to stress that the design of new homes would have to be gotten right if the ambitious targets around the region were to be met. Mr Malthouse was keen to stress that the unique characteristics of buildings in Bristol and Bath in relation to their scale, material and design must be respected in particular.
With the region’s Joint Spatial Plan (JSP) and Joint Transport Study progressing it is clear that a collaborative approach to delivering large scale housing development and infrastructure improvements across the region is coming to the fore. It was therefore no surprise that the Minister concluded his visit by praising the teamwork and ambition shown by the region’s civic leaders - noting that their ability “to come together and cooperate is something to be applauded.”
Matthew Roberts- Account Executive