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Housing agency launched to boost new-build projects

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A new housing agency, Homes England, has been launched today by housing and communities secretary Sajid Javid.

The agency will develop a new commercial approach to acquiring and developing land in areas of high demand and of strategic importance.

Its work aims to help deliver an average of 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s. About 310 local authorities have published a brownfield register, identifying more than 26,000 hectares of developable land on more than 16,000 sites. More registers are expected to be published in the coming weeks.

Homes England will play a key role in acquiring brownfield land in areas where there is high demand for housing, as well as supporting smaller and more innovative builders grow their share of the market.

Mr Javid said: “This government is determined to build the homes our country needs and help more people get on the housing ladder. Homes England will be at the heart of leading this effort.”

The new agency will be financed through the home building fund, which has £1bn in short-term funding and a further £2bn for long-term projects. An additional £1.5bn short-term funding was announced in the autumn Budget.

Nick Walkley, chief executive of Homes England, said: ”As Homes England we will use our land, finance and expertise to expand the delivery of affordable new homes and connect ambitious partners to remove barriers to house building.”

The agency will also support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in construction. More than 75% of the original £1billion short-term funding will support SMEs, custom builders, and developers using modern methods of construction.

Homes England replaces the Homes & Communities Agency, established in 2008 to spearhead land acquisition and regeneration, as well as regulating social housing providers. This regulatory function will now be handled by a separate agency.

Terrie Alafat, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: “The agency promises to bring together a greater range of strategic powers and resources, which combined with its expertise, will allow it to take new and innovative approaches which could make a real difference to get us building more homes at a crucial time.

“The key here is that the new homes are delivered by working closely with local partners to make sure we build the right homes, in the right places and that people can afford them.”

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