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Hammond commits £445m to 'brain belt' homes

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Chancelllor Philip Hamond has pledged £717m for 37,000 new homes, as part of measures to boost housing in the Spring Statement.

More than half of the funding pot (£445m) is earmarked for more than 22,036 homes in the ’Oxford-Cambridge Arc’, following a joint declaration agreed between councils, Cambridge & Peterborough CA and local enterprise partnerships.

The arc area between the two cities, which is known as the ’brain belt’, incorporates Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire and Cambridgeshire. It is described in the declaration as an “area of significant economic potential”, with a productivity rate 2.55% higher than the UK average. 

Other homes will be built at sites including Old Oak Common in West London, Cheshire and Didcot.

The government has declared an ambition for up to a million new homes to be built across the Arc by 2050.

The chancellor also said he is “committed” to two major transport infrastructure links to connect the two towns – The Oxford-Cambridge Expressway, and East-West Rail - which would re-establish a rail link between the cities to improve connections between East Anglia and central, southern and western England. The consultation period for the proposals ended on Monday.

Paul Carter (Con), chairman of the County Councils Network, said: “We welcome the commitment to improving productivity through investment in infrastructure and a commitment to ensure this benefits the entire country.

”It is essential county areas receive their fair share of investment, with our areas containing some the largest infrastructure gaps, lower average incomes and poorer productivity levels.”

Mr Hammond also announced £3bn from the housing infrastructure fund to help deliver 30,000 homes as part of the existing affordable homes guarantee scheme funded.

Under the the scheme the Treasury provides guarantee to housing associations to allow them to build.

The chancellor today said the government was committed to “restoring the dream of home ownership to millions” by delivering a five-year, £44bn home ownership programme.


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