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New fund for regeneration projects

The Government has announced that local communities are to be given new powers to plan regeneration projects.

Local government minister Grant Shapps has outlined that the government is looking to devolve a wide range of powers from Whitehall to local authorities to provide them with incentives to drive local regeneration.

Under the plans announced yesterday, councils will be able to raise additional funds to invest in their local area through a New Homes Bonus, where central Government will match the council tax raised from new homes built and empty homes brought back into use for the first six years.

For the first time, local people will be consulted by councils to decide what to spend the extra money on, including possible council tax discounts for local residents, boosting frontline services like rubbish collection or providing local facilities like swimming pools and leisure centres.

Other changes planned by the Government include increasing local control of council budgets by removing ringfencing from billions of pounds of funding from central Government, and a simplified and streamlined National Planning Policy Framework, giving new powers and rights for local councils and communities to determine and influence what happens in their area.

Visiting the Baytree Renewal Area in Manchester, Shapps said: “I want to see an end to the centrally-imposed regeneration regime which pitted neighbour against neighbour and forced developments on communities that did not want them.

“That’s why we’re shifting the balance in favour of communities themselves, untying the hands of councils and residents so they can make the key decisions over how they would like to improve their own neighbourhoods.

“And with the New Homes Bonus offering powerful incentives for growth, councils will have the opportunity to invest these additional funds in their local area, while residents themselves will for the first time see the benefits of development for themselves.”

UK Regeneration chief executive Jackie Sadek said: “We are delighted that the Government has set out a clear and very simple framework for regeneration. In keeping with its drive on localism the Government is focusing on enabling measures and a few key strategic interventions on transport. This offers all of us a challenge: taking this framework, with limited resources, and making things happen across the country. UK Regeneration is leading that drive.”

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