NEW homes in Wokingham borough could be built more quickly if an application by the council to a £2billion government scheme gets the go-ahead.
Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) announced on Tuesday that it has submitted an expression of interest to the government’s new Accelerated Construction Programme, which aims to speed up house building nationally by making surplus public land available for residential development.
The council, working alongside Wokingham Housing Ltd, is seeking £4.75m in capital funding and £250,000 for additional staffing to unlock and accelerate the delivery of 191 new homes on council-owned sites across the borough.
These homes would be additional to the current numbers the council has already committed to in the Core Strategy, but would contribute to the housing number it needs to deliver through the Local Plan Update.
The council stressed that the sites included in the expression of interest were included to indicative purposes only at this stage, and any decision to build on them would have to go through the normal planning application process.
The sites would include a variety of flats and houses, self-build, affordable homes, privately rented and outright sale.
WBC’s executive member for planning and regeneration, Cllr Mark Ashwell said: “We were asked to provide indicative sites, some of which are currently being investigated by Wokingham Housing Limited. If successful, all sites will go through the executive and planning processes.
“I thank all concerned for reacting so quickly and producing this expression of interest in six working days from pro forma to submission.”
Cllr David Chopping, non-executive director for Wokingham Housing Ltd, said: “We welcome the opportunity to expedite our current building programme, and to add more sites to those already under discussion. For a social developer like us the acquisition of land is the first problem, so assistance with the costs of purchase and then building has to be encouraged.
“Getting a foot on the housing ladder whether first as a tenant or home owner, is the greatest hurdle facing young couples today. Supply and demand controls both rents and purchase costs, so the faster we can build the better.”
The Accelerated Construction Programme offers councils a tailored package of support to help them develop their surplus land holdings much faster, by encouraging builders to use more modern building techniques, which can deliver homes twice as quickly as conventional builders. This could include building methods such as modular construction, and sites backed by the fund are likely to have a quota imposed on them to ensure a proportion of the homes delivered are done using these techniques.