MK to host housing summit to discuss government targets for building new homes

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Experts from across the country will gather at a special housing summit in Milton Keynes today (Jan 26) to discuss how to meet Government targets for building tens of thousands more homes.

The ‘informed debate’ will question who will build the houses, how affordable they will be and whether greater use of brownfield land should be allowed.

It will also address potential problems with road and rail infrastructure as well as current “difficulties” engaging with utility companies to provide electricity and water to future developments, say organisers SEMLEP (South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership).

Speaking at the summit, to be held at the Doubletree by Hilton next to Stadium MK, will be the John Healey, Shadow Minister for Housing and Planning.

A spokesman for SEMLEP said: “Across our 11 local authorities there is significant planned housing development of at least 127,000 new homes by 2025/26, and new local plans currently being put in place are likely to increase that figure to over 135,000.”

But more than one third of those new homes already have planning consents, so the planning system is not the “key issue”, said the spokesman.

One important subject of discussion is expected to be the Community Infrastructure Levy, which is the planning charge that enables councils to raise funds from developers.

This tariff, say SEMLEP is “not helpful” to local authorities in terms of providing the necessary funding for the enabling infrastructure - roads, schools, utilities and community and leisure facilities.

The SEMLEP spokesman said: “In Milton Keynes the tariff arrangements provided the ability to forward fund infrastructure - these are no longer permitted.”

He added: “The purpose of the summit is to enable an informed debate about how to meet the Government’s aspirations to deliver 200,000 new homes each year.

“This should be set against the backdrop of new legislation and announcements in the Autumn Statement about funding and policies to deliver 400,000 new affordable homes by 2020.”

SEMLEP is funding the dualling of the A421 between Magna Park and J13 on the M1 with £23.5m of Local Growth Fund resources.

This will enable significant commercial and residential development, say SEMLEP.