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Counties join infrastructure pilot to speed up house building

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Two county councils are participating in a pilot scheme to speed up utilities connections to new homes.

The government-backed pilot will seek to reduce delays caused by builders being unable to secure water, gas, or electricity supplies to homes with a view to rolling it out across the UK later this year, if the initiative is successful.

It follows a report last year from the Housing & Finance Institute (HFI) on how delays by water companies specifically were holding up progress on home building.

Essex and Kent CCs are taking part in the pilot along with the South East Local Enterprise Partnership, the Home Builders Federation, developers Laing O’Rourke and Keepmoat, Anglian Water, and the Department for Communities and Local Government.

The pilot will look to identify, assess, and unblock infrastructure problems that delay construction. The scheme will focus on housing developments that have been delayed due to a lack of water, sewage, electricity, gas or road connectivity.

Housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell said:I welcome this new pilot scheme and its focus on identifying ways of working together to overcome infrastructure barriers, and I look forward to seeing the initial report on its findings.”

HFI chief executive Natalie Elphicke said developers often complained that poor utilities and infrastructure connections prevent them from building homes more rapidly.

“Water and sewage connectivity is a particular problem, with some water companies completely failing to deliver what housing developers require,” she said.

“This has been slowing down the rate of housing completions right across the country.”

HFI research found water companies could take up to a year to connect a property and still meet their regulatory target.

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