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£866M boost for local infrastructure schemes

Night roadworks

New roads, flood defences and tunnel improvement schemes are among 133 local authority projects to receive an £866M cash boost from the government.

Successful bidders are expected to use the funding for infrastructure projects to help pave the way for the extra 300,000 new homes the government has committed to build each year by the mid-2020s.

Winning schemes include £10M for a Hampshire bypass from the A334/A3051 junction to Woodhouse Lane, £10M for M5 junction improvements in Devon and £3.6M for drainage works and new roads in Sheffield.

But Civil Engineering Contractors Association (CECA) director of external affairs Marie Claude-Hemming warned local authorities against any delays in building the newly funded schemes.

She said: “We call on local authorities across England to take every step at their disposal to bring these schemes forward to market.

“There is an urgent need to bolster economic growth, and to deliver the infrastructure communities and businesses rely upon up and down the country. To do this, we need to get spades in the ground without delay.”

The £866M funding comes from the government’s £5bn Housing Infrastructure Fund, set up to tackle the UK’s housing shortage.

Chancellor Phillip Hammond said: “Today marks the first step of the multi-billion pound investment we announced at the Budget to help build the homes our country needs.

“This fund finances vital infrastructure such as roads, schools and bridges, which will kick-start housing development in some of Britain’s highest-demand areas.”

 Cannock-based Specialist Structural and Civil Engineering consultancy Design2e executive director Wayne Holt said in response there was no easy solution to the housing crisis, although it was good to see the government shift away from mega projects to smaller ones.

“Trying to build yourself out of a housing crisis is like trying to dig yourself out of a hole. Unless you recognise the overall picture, this situation won’t be remedied,” he said.   

“It is important to remember that there are plenty of cities, including London, Birmingham and Manchester, which are not ‘at capacity’. The issue is many cities are over-supplied with homes that are simply too expensive.  I certainly won’t be the first to say this: it is affordable housing that is required. The problem is, these are also the least profitable properties for developers to build.  

”Most local authority housing policies specify that 30 per cent of homes in a development should be affordable. However, as councils need to meet house building targets, it’s all-to-easy for developers to refuse to start construction until the council reduces the number of affordable homes included in the final proposal.”

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